Biography of Witch of Wall Street Hetty Green Part 1

About the famous scrooge Hetty Green, biography and history of the Witch of Wall Street.


The Witch of Wall Street: HETTY GREEN (1835-1916)

A harsh New England Quaker upbringing taught Hetty Green (nee Robinson) the virtues of thrift and self-denial, and her close study of her prosperous family's whaling business and investments taught her the intricacies of finance. Missing from her education, however, were lessons on how to enjoy the vast wealth she was destined to accumulate. Her father applauded her thrift when she dressed in rags. Although she grew into a voluptuous young woman with an exquisite complexion, she continued her slovenly ways. One potential suitor noted that his ardor quickly cooled when he caught sight of mismatched stockings hanging down around her ankles. As for Hetty, she considered all men fortune hunters.

Hetty came into her own at 30. Her father's death left her a million dollars outright, as well as the income from several million more, the principal of which was to pass on to her children. Soon thereafter she inherited the income from another million dollars, half of an aunt's estate. Hetty was outraged at not receiving the whole thing. She considered the entire estate rightfully hers and spent years trying to break the will. She finally dropped the case when she was accused of forging a document in her aunt's name. Hetty's wrath was increased by a provision in the will calling for the distribution of the principal among relatives on her own death. Visions of greedy relatives awaiting her death made it impossible for Green to relax, for fear of assassination.

In 1867 Hetty married 46-year-old Edward H. Green, a millionaire in his own right. Although Green was wildly extravagant in comparison with his wife, they seemed genuinely happy together. Soon they had two children. Drawing upon her husband's financial expertise, as well as her own sound judgment, Hetty invested in railroads, U.S. gold, bonds, and real estate and quickly doubled her father's fortune. During her peak income years (which were many), she earned enough money in an hour or two to pay all her living expenses for a year. And during the rest of the year she kept on earning money at the same furious rate, 24 hours a day. The surplus she reinvested and hoarded. Her formula for getting rich was simple: "All you have to do is buy cheap and sell dear, act with thrift and shrewdness and be persistent."

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