Cannonball

Part of the USA Today Network

Gotta love compound interest!

Recent news headline:
Tampa Sued for Nonpayment of $299.58 Civil War Debt
A Tampa, Florida, woman has sued the city to collect an old debt that dates back to the Civil War. Joan Kennedy Biddle is in possession of an old promissary note from the city that dates from June 1861 when her ancestor Thomas Pugh Kennedy sold implements and ammunition to help defend the town of 850 people from the Union army. Not having cash, the town issued the IOU, which has been kept in a safety deposit box.
Biddle filed suit to claim over $20 MILLION dollars that Tampa owes her in her opinion, figuring the original debt at 8% compound interest! The city government is citing the 14th Amendment, which essentially negated civic debts stemming from rebellion. It should be an interesting court fight. Stay tuned.
That brings up York and an old unpaid bill of its own…


Jubal Early ransomed York for $100,000 in June 1863; only $28,610 was ever paid. Decades after the war, Early wrote that York still owed him the balance. He complained, “We were compelled to get our provisions from the country we were in. Ewell’s corps was pretty well supplied for a few days, my division best of all, for which the town of York is not yet done paying.”
Assuming Early’s descendants had a legitimate claim, which they don’t by the way, the amount still owed to the Confederate army, $71,390, would be a staggering sum that would readily bankrupt York (over $5 BILLION at 8% interest compounded annually). One can see how silly this whole Tampa affair is. The only folks who are going to win in that court case are the lawyers.