William F. Cody (en.wikipedia.org)
Moral dilemmas frequently arise when investment meets conscience. Given human nature, it is likely that such crises have existed as long as humans have invested money in things unseen. A story from the book Capital Stories about Famous Americans, demonstrates that at least one person came to question such an investment after witnessing one of Buffalo Bill’s famous western exhibitions.
After a performance in Boston, William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) provided a reception. Spectators of the afternoon show could meet an authentic legend of the American West. As other guests enthusiastically engaged the famous westerner, a woman and her son lingered to the side of the gathering. When the crowd thinned, the lady, with son in tow, approached Cody. “”Do you consider that you give a true picture of Western life?”” she asked. “”We try to, madam”” responded Cody.
In an effort to clarify her question, the woman continued “”The people ride around and shoot in that terrific manner, do they?”” Now wary of the woman’s questions Cody replied ““Well yes; on occasion.”” Now clearly agitated the woman said “”I never suspected it. Most of the money left me by my husband is invested in the West, but now I feel doubtful about allowing any more of it to go there.””
Understanding the woman’s eastern sensibilities had been shaken by her perception of western barbarity, Cody offered “”Is it secured by first-class real estate mortgage?”” Pondering the man in front of her the lady answered, “”I believe so.”” Now confident he could allay the woman’s concern, Cody continued “”Madam, do not give yourself the least uneasiness. In all my experience with the West, I have never seen the first mortgage on real estate riding a bucking bronco, shooting up a town, or doing anything except grimly drawing its twelve per cent per annum. I wish I owned a million of ‘em.””