ONE of the first Athenians whose doings belong to history is Draco, who lived about 600 years before Christ. At that time the working people of Athens were very unhappy. One reason of this was that the laws were not written and the judges were very unfair. They almost always decided in favor of their rich friends. At last everybody in Athens agreed that the laws ought to be written out and Draco was asked to write them. A very wise and good man called Solon was then living in Athens, and the Athenians asked him to make a new set of laws.
Rich and poor were surprised when they read Solon's new laws. The poor who had lost their farms and houses were to have everything given back to them. Solon thought they had paid so much interest for so many years that their debts should be forgiven. All who had been sold as slaves were to have their freedom and no one was  ever again to be sold for debt. Those debtors who had not lost everything were to be forgiven about a quarter of what they owed. All this Solon called a "shaking-off of burdens," and thousands of people felt that heavy burdens had indeed been taken from their shoulders. Solon did another good thing for the people. He gave every citizen a vote and all could attend the Assembly of the people, which was like a New England town-meeting.