One of America's greatest coin collectors was Col. E.H.R. "Ned" Green, son of the famous investor Hetty Green. The Washington Post published a review of a new book on his mother titled “The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age” . Here are some excerpts.
“I enjoy being in the thick of things. I like to have a part in the great movements of the world and especially of this country. I like to deal with big things and with big men.”
So said Hetty Green, who was known as the Queen of Wall Street and, less flatteringly, as the Witch of Wall Street, according to a new biography by Janet Wallach. Green, who was born in a well-to-do Quaker family in 1834, made her fortune during the Gilded Age by investing in railroads and lending money to America’s great cities, including New York and Chicago. When she died in 1916, she was worth at least $100 million, the equivalent of about $2.5 billion today, making her the world’s richest woman in her day.
Green was feared and loathed — as Wallach makes clear, the rules have always been different for women than for men, and a woman who made rather than spent wasn’t to be trusted.
Although Green famously didn’t spend money on a doctor for her young son when he injured his knee, and his leg later had to be amputated, Wallach also relates how Green once pulled out a gun to a businessman who made threats against the boy. “Harm one hair of Ned’s hair and I’ll put a bullet through your heart,” she said. And Wallach tells how, when a deliveryman fell from his cart in Paris, Green rushed to the wounded man’s side and cleaned him up with her handkerchief. The marchioness who employed the footman, having no clue who Green was, offered her a job as a superintendent in a hospital. Green was not offended. Instead, she thanked the marchioness for the compliment of a job offer.
Wallach’s book is also about how Green made her money, and aspiring investors might want to memorize her words as they do Warren Buffett’s. Green’s father, Edward Robinson, “made it a practice never to borrow,” and Green too was always a lender. “I buy when things are low and nobody wants them,” she said. “I keep them until they go up and people are crazy to get them. That is, I believe, the secret of all successful business.”
To read the complete article, see:
“The Richest Woman in America” Hetty Green in the Gilded Age” by Janet Wallach
Wayne Homren, Editor
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