By Jeannette Holland Austin (profile)
An Act was passed in 1633 requiring that all contracts and bargains should be kept in money sterling and not in tobacco, which was the custom at that time. A large proportion of these sales were based on credit in anticipation of the next year's crop. In the course of time, however, prices could drop rather dramatically, leaving the planter with a heavy loss. Business has always had it risks and the planters also took their chances. The idea was to make a better world than the one they'd left. Property was conveyed as collateral. In the event that the debt was not settled in a timely manner (when the tobacco crop was in), the merchant or creditor could take possession of the landed property. If the crop were sufficient to pay the debt, the planter could claim a release in full.
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