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Mary Ellen Pleasant, one of the first black self-made millionaires, used an ingenious trick to build her fortune

Black Women in History

Mary Ellen Pleasant, one of the first black self-made millionaires, used an ingenious trick to build her fortune

By Tom Huddleston Jr. via https://www.cnbc.com/

Mary Ellen Pleasant may not be a household name, but her story rivals that of any great American entrepreneur. In the 1800s, Pleasant became one of the first African-American female self-made millionaires in the U.S. despite the significant obstacles she faced as black woman.

Pleasant employed her inherent savvy, building a massive investment portfolio that was reportedly worth as much as $30 million at one time — a fortune that would make her close to a billionaire in today’s value.

She put her fortune to use aiding abolitionist causes across the country while helping slaves escape through the Underground Railroad and settle down in free states. Here’s her story.

How she built a fortune

Born in 1814 (some biographers say she was born into slavery on a Georgia plantation, though she claimed to have been born free in Philadelphia), Pleasant was separated from her parents at a young age…

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Chrysalis

I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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