TIL about Mary Ellen Pleasant, a black woman in the 1800s who amassed a fortune by eavesdropping on investors while working as a domestic

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Pleasant used her proximity and anonymity to pick up countless valuable investing tips by listening in on her employers’ conversations. In fact, one historian posits the possibility that Pleasant worked as a domestic servant specifically to pick up on investment advice and juicy gossip. “It’s quite possible that the jobs she had as a domestic were a cover that she was using because she clearly made her money from investments,”


From the wikipedia article: “She arranged marriages between wealthy men and her “protégés”, who kept detailed records about the men’s activities—illegitimate children, infidelities, and political and financial shenanigans—which may have been used for blackmail.”


Ugh. The end of her story is depressing. Cheated out of her fortune.


Yoooo she bankrolled the raid on Harper’s Ferry what an absolute mother fucking goddess


*goes to the bedroom to discuss stocks* *maid starts quietly cleaning in bedroom* *goes to the kitchen to discuss stocks* *maid starts quietly cleaning in kitchen* *goes to the roof to discuss stocks* *maid starts quietly cleaning the roof*