ersistent to this day, the wealth of a person is still seen within society as the most significant judgemental factor and in some parts of the world, it even makes people prematurely guess the skin color of others. If you think today is bad, this was a lot worse back in the 17th century, when most of the wealthiest people were of white descent although interestingly enough in Before Christ it was quite the other way around.
Slavery itself was an integrated part of the colonial economy within the United States of America. Many farmers were dependent on the slave workforce as there was huge land, but not enough workforce. Many of the first colonists took advantage of slaves to build their wealth, wealth that is still inherited to this day.
Those white colonists hated the idea of people of other colors being rich and in power. Even after slavery had been made illegal within the United States of America on the 1st of January 1863, the stereotype of “only white people can be rich” continued. That is why everyone believed that Sarah Rector was white.
The case of Sarah Rector was not very well known until people actually saw her skin color and wealth. Sarah was a direct descendant of the first generation of slaves that were brought to America, she was also part of the Creek tribe (Native American Tribe). Her grandfather had fought in the Civil War and after the war ended he was rewarded with a lot of lands. Upon his death, this land was split equally between all of his grandchildren, each receiving 64 hectares.
Sarah received a piece of land that was evaluated to be worth $556. These lands were all over the place and Sarah ended up getting one of the worst pieces of land because it was 70 miles away from where she lived and the land itself was not good for agriculture. She almost lost this piece of land as she was not able to pay the $30 yearly tax on the land.
At the time she received the land, Sarah was only 10 years old and happy to have land valued at even $500. No one knew what treasure was hiding beneath the surface.
People like you for your money
Sometime after receiving the land it was discovered that beneath the ground was a large pocket of petrol which was estimated to be worth millions. The land was in today’s Oklahoma (the event took place before Oklahoma was admitted as a state) and the governing officials wanted to make the discovery public and stated within the paperwork that Sarah was white when she was actually black, but due to this stereotype of “only white people can be rich,” they did not bother to check.
Sarah’s parents had leased the land to Standart Oil Company in 1911 and in the same year, they started pumping out petrol. Sarah was receiving $300 a day (around $8,500 today). The local governors were worried about a young descendant of slaves receiving so much money, so they attributed a financial advisor that would teach Sarah how to spend her money.
This wasn’t enough to make the governors feel safe with the amount of money she was receiving, therefore they made sure that she would pay a huge sum of tax for the money she was making. Based on an article published in the Denver Star in 1913, Sarah paid the highest tax in the history of Oklahoma state at the time.
Despite all the racist comments and her being written down as of white descent on papers, by the age of 18 she managed to gather a nice sum of money, just a bit over one million dollars back in 1920 (today that would be around 13 billion dollars). This has brought the interest of a lot of men to marry Sarah, mostly for the money. By that age, she was more interested in investing her wealth to make even more.
She was the owner of multiple coffee shops, a hotel, a bakery, and huge agricultural lands and had invested quite a bit into stocks. Sometime later she took her family and moved to Kansas City in Missouri where she bought a house that is still famously known as the Rector Mansion.
Sarah knew how to make money, but also how to have fun with money, which is why most of her money was spent on clothes and cars. She sadly passed away on the 22nd of July 1967 at the age of 65 due to natural causes, but she is still remembered as the wealthiest descendant of a slave as well as the black girl who was declared white due to her wealth.