A Millionaire who Made Nothing
You might feel this man is best left forgotten in history once you hear his story. Timothy Dexter was born in Malden, Massachusetts on January 22, 1747. Born into a poor family, Timothy had little schooling and began working as a farm laborer at the age of 8. As a teen, Timothy started his apprenticeship as a leather-dresser. Fortunately, for Timothy, his life as a poor man did not last long. In 1769, he moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, settling into a mansion with his rich wife, who had been a widow.
Within society, Timothy was thought to be unintelligent. Before the end of the American Revolutionary War, he took control of all the continental currency he could, which was worth nothing. However, in 1790, when the Constitution was ratified, Congress decided that the continental currency could be traded in for treasury bonds. Because Timothy had collected all the continental dollars he could, he became instantly wealthy. After gaining all this wealth, Dexter felt his peers would respect him more. However, this was not the case. It seemed to be no matter what he tried, his crude behavior would stand in his way of the respect he felt he deserved.
Over time, Timothy Dexter decided he wanted to become Lord Timothy Dexter. Dexter was not a lord by any means, but he felt with his new-found wealth, it was a requirement. He also made several eccentric purchases with his new money. Dexter had a horse carriage specifically made for him, which included his initials. He also purchased several cream-colored horses and a fleet of shipping vessels. However, his most interesting purchase was hiring an artist to carve a series of 40 giant statues on his property. Historians believe this purchase was made in order to create public attention, which he did.
Dexter’s lavish and interesting purchases are not even what he is best known for in American history. Shortly before he died, Dexter decided to fake his death in order to see how people would react. It is reported that the only people who knew about his staged funeral were his family, who he had to bribe to go along with it. While he seemed somewhat happy with the number of people who showed up to his funeral, about 3,000, he was unimpressed by his wife’s reaction. After the funeral, he went home and beat his wife, stating that she did not grieve enough.
Sometimes time changes people, and when it comes to Dexter, this saying is true. Before Dexter officially died on October 26, 1806, he tried to change his ways. One of the ways Timothy did this was by changing his will, where he divided his estate up equally among his family and friends. Furthermore, he left money to be divided up among the poor. Today, your opinions of Dexter are either one side or the other, people either like him or they do not. There seems to be no in-between.