"Woman as a Financier." by Mrs. Mary Ann Rutherford Lipscomb (1848-1918).
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 469-470.
|MRS. MARY A. LIPSCOMB.|
Someone has pertinently remarked that, "Washington might as well have decreed by legislation how high a brown thrasher should fly, or how deep a trout should plunge, as to try to seek out the height or depth of woman's duty. The capacity will finally settle the whole question." As to her capacity to manage finances, she has [Page 470] settled that question for herself so far as she has been tested. In the state of Georgia, where I live, there are several banks with women presidents and directors, and in these perilous times of embarrassment and failure not one of these banks has been seriously threatened. Out West there are women cashiers and, so far as my knowledge goes, not one has ever become a defaulter, nor has by unwise management involved the stockholders. In Georgia, too, not far from my native town, is a little village of several hundred inhabitants under the government of a woman mayor. It is a new place, but there is an air of prosperity and thrift about it that is very remarkable. Even the stronger sex stop to admire and commend the hand that holds and guides the reins of government. It is said that this little town of Demorest is the best conditioned town in our state. Out in Kansas there is still another town that, I am told, is entirely officered by women, and it is affirmed that the finances of that place are more prosperous than those of any other place in the Union. Said Frank Leslie to his wife when he was dying: "Go to my office, sit in my place, and do my work until my debts are paid." He recognized in her the ability to do this work, and the result proves that his judgment was not mistaken. At the time his business was hopelessly insolvent, his debts being estimated at three hundred thousand dollars. With a brave heart she begged time of her creditors to rescue her husband's name from the shame of bankruptcy. It was with distrust that they granted her request, but in an incredibly short time every debt was paid and the entire business placed on a firm basis. Today there is a no more flourishing business than that of which Mrs. Leslie is the sole proprietor.
Perhaps the strictest financier today and the richest woman in America is Mrs. Hetty Green, of New York. She is known to all by the little green satchel that she carries on her arm, in which are stored stocks and securities. She is the only woman who has ever dared to venture a deal with Wall Street brokers, and in no investment has she ever been known to lose. It took the skillful financiering of a woman to restore prosperity to a people whose ruin had nearly been effected by the errors of the two preceding kings. Might not the wisdom displayed by the Virgin Queen be helpful in these later times to a people now beset by similar difficulties?
Mrs. Smythe, of North Dakota, is a woman whose farming interests cover many square miles, and she grows annually thousands of bushels of golden grain. She has her overseers and superintendents subject to her orders, but she is the supreme director of all her interests. She invests her money in real estate, and from the yearly rentals she is enabled to carry on her large farming interests without borrowing or going in debt. Are there many gentlemen farmers who can boast as much? These few illustrations called from here and there are cited, not for the purpose of advocating woman's rights, but simply in proof of her ability as a financier; an ability which is among the God given rights with which she is endowed, and which man in full justice to her is bound to recognize. I am not an advocate of woman's rights in the opprobrious sense of that expression. I do not care to see–hope never to see the women of America leave the quiet sanctity of their homes and thrust themselves out into the political world. I could not be so untrue to that mother who taught me that modesty was the cloak of protection to be worn by woman. I could not be so untrue to my religion, the religion of my father, which has taught me that the good woman "openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness," that "she looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness." Nay, I could never advocate any right that would place woman where the blush of shame would never mantle her cheek, or where the chivalry of man would refuse to accord her that honor which is every true woman's due.
In closing this little paper which I only offer as containing some suggestive thoughts, I know of no more beautiful and encouraging example to women in the financial world than the work that has been accomplished by her at this Exposition now in progress. These walls and all that they contain are grand monuments to her energy, patience and financial skill.
All honor then to the noble daughters of America who have conceived the plan of all this work and have successfully carried it into execution!
Mrs. M. A. Lipscomb was born in Athens, Ga. Her parents were Laura Cobb Rutherford and Williams Rutherford. She was educated at the Lucy Cobb Institute, Athens, Ga., and has traveled throughout the United States and Europe. She married Francis Adgate Lipscomb, Professor of Belles-lettres at the University of Georgia. Her special work has been in the interest of elocution, science and general education. Her principal literary works are essays, plays, poems, newspaper articles, etc. Her profession is that of a teacher. She sums up her life as follows: "Half my years are spent and I am but on the threshold of knowledge. 'This only I know that I know nothing.'" In religious faith she is a Baptist. Her postoffice address is Athens, Ga.
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