Hetty Green was straight from the Mayflower stock and considered to be a member of high society by the wealthy families in New York. Hetty’s father and grandfather owned a successful whaling company. She was the sole heir to her grandfather’s and father’s holdings, however, she was cheated out of almost all that was promised. Since Hetty’s family were devoted Quakers, Hetty was raised with the same values: thrift, economy, simplicity, hard work, devotion to Scripture and living by biblical principles.
She began saving and investing money while she was still a young girl. This was a time when it was considered uncomely for a woman to practice any business skills. Hetty turned her savings and the inheritance that she received into a vast fortune. During the Gilded Age, she was known to be the richest woman in America. She was also called “the witch of Wall Street” by those who resented her achievements and carefulness.
Growing up, I had heard only about a churlish woman who allowed her son to suffer an amputation rather than spend money on a doctor. The truth is, the real Hetty was nothing like the vilified stories that were told about her. Listen to the podcast on Hetty Green to learn the truth about the woman who sought to live out her Quaker values in a hostile business world.
- The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach