Monday, April 21, 2008

I'd take the confederate money

This story from Consumerist

Some debt collectors are mighty persistent.

NPR says that a 77-year-old Tampa woman, Joan Kennedy Biddle, is suing to collect on a $300 loan that her great-grandfather made to the city of Tampa 147 years ago, during the Civil War. That modest debt (with interest) has grown to a little under $23 million dollars.

Biddle is in possession of an IOU signed by Tampa's mayor promising to repay her ancestor for money borrowed to purchase supplies to be used in defense of the city of Tampa. The IOU is dated 1871, after Florida joined the Confederacy. When asked why she's trying to collect the debt now, Biddle told NPR: "Better late than never."

In defense of itself, the City of Tampa came up with a rather impressive list of reasons why the debt is not valid, not least of which is the fact that it was payable in Confederate dollars — a currency that no longer exists. It seems that Ms. Biddle's IOU may do better on Antiques Roadshow than it will in a court room.