It was during the siege of Fort Sumter that the story I want to share with you takes place….
This story came to me from the pen of Jared Dillian, the very talented writer of an excellent publication called The Daily Dirtnap; and the moment I read it I knew I had to share it with my readers, because it illustrates perfectly something I have been talking to people about for years.
Readers can, and definitely should check out Jared's fantastic work HERE; and to give you a taste of Jared's enviable narrative prowess, I am going to let him tell you the story as he told it to me:
The Calhoun Mansion
Let me tell you again why I like gold and silver.
I was in Charleston two weekends ago for my mom's birthday. We did a horse and carriage ride, a historical tour, around the city. I always thought those things were cheesy, but as it turns out, the horse and carriage tours are very highly regulated, the tour guides have to pass a series of knowledge exams and then take continuing education. I kid you not! Ours had been doing it for six years, and was good.
So as we went by the Calhoun Mansion on Meeting Street, the tour guide fella starts telling us about the house. It was built by a guy named George Walton Williams, who was the richest guy in town. This was back during the Civil War. It's a 24,000 square foot mansion with 14 foot ceilings. It's just monstrous. It cost $200,000 to build — back in the 1860s! So how did Mr. George Walton Williams make his money?
Well, as you probably know, Charleston is a port city, and during the War, the Union Navy blockaded the port and then bombarded the city for weeks and months, but during this time, there were these guys who were "blockade runners" who would sneak by the navy ships, bringing necessary supplies to the city, which was under siege. Blockade runners made a lot of money — five grand a trip sometimes — but you know who made even more money? George Walton Williams did.
He financed the blockade runners.
Williams was not the only one doing this, but he was the most successful, why? Because he insisted on being paid only in gold and silver. If you know your Civil War history you also know that there was a Confederate currency, and I don't know if Mr. Williams had a particular view on the Confederate dollar, but at the conclusion of the war, the Confederate dollar collapsed, and everyone was left holding the bag — except for George Walton Williams.
Williams became like a J.P. Morgan character in the city — Charleston was the center of Southern finance, and Williams singlehandedly bailed out the Broad Street banks. He also built a pretty cool house.
This next paragraph contains the fundamental principle of investing in gold and silver, which so few people genuinely understand — despite the multitudes of commentators expending countless thousands of words.
Hit 'em between the eyes, Jared:
So these anti gold idiots are just that, idiots, or else they have the memory of a goldfish, because currencies come and currencies go, as sure as night follows day. It is the natural order of things. And as you can see, it's not about trading gold to get rich or getting long gold or buying one by two call spreads or getting fancy, it literally is about protecting yourself in the end. It's not like Williams got rich. He just stayed rich. Everyone else got poor.
That's it. Right there.
Thanks, Jared, I'll take it from here.
Click here to continue reading this article from Things That Make You Go Hmmm… – a free weekly newsletter by Grant Williams, a highly respected financial expert and current portfolio and strategy advisor at Vulpes Investment Management in Singapore.
The article Things That Make You Go Hmmm: Appetite for Distraction was originally published here at Mauldin Economics
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