The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Franklin Pierce
Special Message
December 11, 1854

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

An act for the relief of the legal representatives of Samuel Prioleau, deceased, which provided for the payment of the sum of $6,928.60 to the legal representatives of said Prioleau by the proper accounting officer of the Treasury, was approved by me July 27, 1854. It having been ascertained that the identical claim provided for in this act was liquidated and paid under the provisions of the general act of August 4, 1790, and of the special act of January 24, 1795, the First Comptroller of the Treasury declined to give effect to the law first above referred to without communicating the facts for my consideration. This refusal I regard as fully justified by the facts upon which it was predicated.

In view of the destruction of valuable papers by fire in the building occupied by the Treasury Department in 1814 and again in 1833, it is not surprising that cases like this should, more than seventy years after the transaction with which they were connected, be involved in much doubt. The report of the Comptroller, however, shows conclusively by record evidence still preserved in the Department and elsewhere that the sum of $6,122.44, with $3,918.36 interest thereon from the date of the destruction of the property, making the sum of $10,040.80, was allowed to Samuel Prioleau under the act for his relief passed in 1795.

That amount was reported by the Auditor to the Comptroller on the 4th day of February, 1795, to be funded as follows, to wit:

Two-thirds of $6,122.44, called 6 per cent stock----------------------------------------- $4, 081.63
One-third, called deferred stock----------------------------------------------------------- 2, 040.81
Interest on the principal, called 3 per cent stock------------------------------------------- 3, 918.36

Total------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10, 040. 80

On the books of the loan office of South Carolina, under date of April 27, 1795,
is an entry showing that there was issued of the funded 6 per cent stock to

Samuel Prioleau ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4, 081.63
Of the deferred stock---------------------------------------------------------------------- 2, 040.81
Of the 3 per cent stock--------------------------------------------------------------------- 3, 918.36

Total------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10, 040.80

On the ledger of said loan office an account was opened with Samuel Prioleau, in which he was credited with the three items of stock and deputed by the transfer of each certificate to certain persons named, under dates of May 20, 1795, August 24, 1795, and April 19, 1796.

These records show that the account of Samuel Prioleau, required to be settled by the act of January 28, 1795, was settled; that the value of the property destroyed was allowed; that the amount so found due was funded by said Prioleau and entered by his order on the loan-office books of South Carolina, and soon thereafter by him sold and transferred. That the entire funded debt of the United States was long since paid is matter of history.

It is apparent that the claim has been prosecuted under a misapprehension on the part of the present claimants.

I present the evidence ill the case collected by the First Comptroller and embodied in his report for your consideration, together with a copy of a letter just received by that officer from the executor of P. G. Prioleau, and respectfully recommend the repeal of the act of July 27, 1854.


Citation: Franklin Pierce: "Special Message", December 11, 1854. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
© 1999-2011 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project