The use of a multinomial logit model to analyze a hitherto unavailable dataset of 1,376 small-claims lawsuits in colonial Augusta County, Virginia, for information about debts, litigants, and procedures f inds no evidence of prejudice in the legal system. The magistrates’ consistently fair enforcement of legitimate contracts may have induced both plaintiffs and defendants to settle their disputes in court rather than in private. The evidence corroborates the view that by the mid-eighteenth century, Virginia’s frontier judicial system was sufficiently impartial to encourage creditors to draw up efficient contracts even for small debts.

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