Old money is "the inherited wealth of established upper-class families (i.e. gentry, patriciate)" or "a person, family, or lineage possessing inherited wealth".[1] It is a social class of the rich who have been able to maintain their wealth over multiple generations, often referring to perceived members of the de facto aristocracy in societies that historically lack an officially established aristocratic class (such as the United States), in contrast with new money whose wealth has been acquired within its own generation.

Wealth and class edit

Wealth—assets held by an individual or by a household—provides an important dimension of social stratification because it can pass from generation to generation, ensuring that a family's offspring will remain financially stable. Families with "old money" use accumulated assets or savings to bridge interruptions in income, thus guarding against downward social mobility.[2]

"Old money" applies to those of the upper class whose wealth separates them from lower social classes.

United States edit

According to anthropologist W. Lloyd Warner, the upper class in the United States during the 1930s was divided into the upper-upper and the lower-upper classes.[3] The lower-upper were those who did not come from traditionally wealthy families. They earned their money from investments and business, rather than inheritance. Examples include John D. Rockefeller, whose father was a traveling peddler; Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose father operated a ferry in New York Harbor; Henry Flagler, who was the son of a Presbyterian minister; and Andrew Carnegie, who was the son of a Scottish weaver. In contrast to the nouveau riche, whose riches were acquired in their own generation, the upper-upper class were families viewed as "quasi-aristocratic" and "high society".[3] These families had been rich and prominent in the politics of the United States for generations. In many cases, their prominence dated since before the American Revolution (1765–1783), when their ancestors had accumulated fortunes as members of the elite planter class, or as merchants, slave traders, ship-owners, or fur traders. In many cases, especially in Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, the source of these families' wealth were vast tracts of land granted to their ancestors by the Crown or acquired by headright during the colonial period. These planter class families were often related to each other through intermarriage for more than 300 years, and are sometimes known as American gentry. They produced several Founding Fathers of the United States and a number of early presidents of the United States.

After the American Civil War (1861–1865), many in the upper-upper class saw their wealth greatly reduced. Their slaves became freedmen. Union forces under Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Philip Sheridan had also cut wide swaths of destruction through portions of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. They destroyed crops, killed or confiscated livestock, burned barns and gristmills, and in some cases torched plantation houses and even entire cities such as Atlanta. They were using scorched earth tactics, designed to starve the Confederate States of America into submission. After the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1865) and the emancipation of the slaves, many plantations were converted to sharecropping. African American freedmen were working as sharecroppers on the same land which they had worked as slaves before the war. Despite the fact that their circumstances were greatly reduced, the enactment of Jim Crow laws and the disenfranchisement of freed black people allowed many planter class families in the Southern United States to regain their political prominence, if not their great wealth, following Reconstruction (1863–1877).[citation needed]

In the early 20th century, the upper-upper class were seen as more prestigious than the nouveau riche even if the nouveau riche had more wealth.[3] During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the nouveau rich flaunted their wealth by building Gilded Age mansions that emulated the palaces of European royalty, while old money was more conservative. American "Old money" families tend to adhere to various Mainline Protestant denominations; Episcopalians[4][5] and Presbyterians are the most prevalent among them.[6]

Early Colonial edit

George and Martha Washington with their Grandchildren. George Washington Parke Custis, and Eleanor Parke Custis

Late Colonial edit

  • The Astor family made their fortune in the 18th century, through fur trading, real estate, the hotel industry, and other investments.
  • The Forbes family of Boston made their fortune in the shipping and later railroad industries as well as other investments. They have been a prominent wealthy family in the United States for 200 years.
  • The Hartwick family is of mainly English and German descent, and their ancestry and fortune predates the American Revolution. The Hartwicks have produced several politicians and military generals, such as Edward Hartwick. By World War I, the family-controlled most of the lumber in the United States. The Hartwick's philanthropic works include the founding of Hartwick College, and Hartwick Pines State Park.

Early National Era edit

  • The Van Leer family of Pennsylvania made their fortune in the iron business. They have been prominent in academia, business, and American politics. Descendants include successful entrepreneurs, governors, congressmen, university presidents, and university founders.
  • The Whitney family is an American family notable for their business enterprises, social prominence, wealth and philanthropy, founded by John Whitney, who came from London, England to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635. The Whitney family are members of the Episcopal Church.[5]

Although many "old money" individuals do not rank as high on the list of Forbes 400 richest Americans as their ancestors did, their wealth continues to grow. Many families increased their holdings by investment strategies such as the pooling of resources.[26]: 115  For example, the Rockefeller family's estimated net worth of $1 billion in the 1930s grew to $8.5 billion by 2000—that is, not adjusted for inflation. In 60 years, four of the richest families in the United States increased their combined $2–4 billion in 1937 to $38 billion without holding large shares in emerging industries. When adjusted for inflation, the actual dollar wealth of many of these families has shrunk since the '30s.[26]: 115 [27]: 2 

From a private wealth manager's perspective, "old money" can be classified into two: active "old money" and passive "old money". The former includes inheritors who, despite the inherited wealth at their disposal or that which they can access in the future, choose to pursue their own career or set up their own businesses.[28]Paris Hilton and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou did this. On the other hand, passive "old money" are the idle rich or those who are not wealth producers.[28]

"Old money" contrasts with the nouveau riche and parvenus. These fall under the category "new money" (those not from traditionally wealthy families).

Europe edit

The Rothschild family, as an example, established finance houses across Europe from the 18th century and was ennobled by the Habsburg emperor and Queen Victoria. Throughout the 19th century, they controlled the largest fortune in the world, in today's terms many hundreds of billions. The family has, at least to some extent, maintained its wealth for over two centuries. The Rothschilds were not, however, considered "old money" by their British counterparts. In Britain, the term generally exclusively refers to the nobility - that is, the peerage and landed gentry - who traditionally live off the land inherited paternally.[29] The British concept is analogous to good lineage and it is not uncommon to find someone with "old money" who is actually poor or insolvent.[30] By 2001, however, those belonging to this category—the aristocratic landowners—are still part of the wealthiest list in the United Kingdom.[31] For instance, the Duke of Westminster, by way of his Grosvenor estate, owns large swaths of properties in London that include 200 acres of Belgravia and 100 acres of Mayfair.[32] There is also the case of Viscount Portman, who is the owner of 100 acres of land north of Oxford Street.

Many countries had wealth-based restrictions on voting. In France, out of a nation of 27 million people, only 80,000 to 90,000 were allowed to vote in the 1820 French legislative election and the richest one-quarter of them had two votes.[33]

In popular culture edit

The ITV television series Downton Abbey frequently contrasts the differences between Old Money and New Money in Britain during the early 20th century. Thus, the aggressiveness of the parvenu newspaperman Sir Richard Carlisle is juxtaposed with the genteel noblesse oblige of heiress Lady Mary Crawley and her family.

The HBO series "The Gilded Age" follows a young woman entering 1882 New York City's rigid social scene who is drawn into the daily conflicts surrounding the new money Russell family and the old money van Rhijn-Brook family. The series is based on the real Gilded Age New York society, particularly Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt.

Perhaps the most famous critique of the tension between Old Money and New Money in American literature can be found in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The characters in possession of old money, represented by the Buchanan family (Tom and Daisy), get away with murder; while those with new money, represented by Gatsby himself, are alternately embraced and scorned by other characters in the book. Fitzgerald vastly critiques people in possession of old money through his narrator Nick Carraway: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Old Money" The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 5 November 2008. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/oldmoney
  2. ^ Scholz, Claudia W.; Juanita M. Firestone (2007). "Wealth". In George Ritzer (ed.). Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Reference Online. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1405124331.
  3. ^ a b c Warner, William Lloyd (1960). Social Class in America: A Manual of Procedure for the Measurement of Social Status. Harper & Row.
  4. ^ Ayres Jr., B. Drummond (19 December 2011). "The Episcopalians: An American Elite With Roots Going Back to Jamestown". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b W. Williams, Peter (2016). Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression. University of North Carolina Press. p. 176. ISBN 9781469626987. The names of fashionable families who were already Episcopalian, like the Morgans, or those, like the Fricks, who now became so, goes on interminably: Aldrich, Astor, Biddle, Booth, Brown, Du Pont, Firestone, Ford, Gardner, Mellon, Morgan, Procter, the Vanderbilt, Whitney. Episcopalian branches of the Baptist Rockefellers and Jewish Guggenheims even appeared on these family trees.
  6. ^ Davidson, James D.; Pyle, Ralph E.; Reyes, David V. (1995). "Persistence and Change in the Protestant Establishment, 1930–1992". Social Forces. 74 (1): 157–175 [p. 164]. doi:10.1093/sf/74.1.157. JSTOR 2580627.
  7. ^ Evans, Emory G. "William Byrd (1728–1777)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  8. ^ Dabney, Virginius (1990). Richmond: The Story of a City: Revised and Expanded Edition. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia. p. 19. ISBN 0813912741. OCLC 20263021. At Google Books.
  9. ^ Frank B. Atkinson (2006). Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-year-old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981–2006. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 7. ISBN 9780742552104.
  10. ^ Evans, Nelson Wiley; Emmons B. Stivers (1900). A History of Adams County, Ohio: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Including Character Sketches of the Prominent Persons Identified with the First Century of the Country's Growth ... E B. Stivers. pp. 526–527; J. W. Klise stated that Byrd began his legal education with his uncle. J. W. Klise, ed., State Centennial History of Highland County, 1902; 1902. Reprint. Owensboro, KY: Cook & McDowell, 1980, p. 168.
  11. ^ Brock, Robert Alonzo (1888). Virginia and Virginians, Vol. I, p. 40. Richmond and Toledo: H.H. Hardesty.
  12. ^ Tarter, Brett. "Robert Burwell (1720–1777)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Henry Corbyn (1628 or 1629–ca. 1676) – Encyclopedia Virginia".
  14. ^ Lyon Gardiner Tyler, ed. (1915). Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Vol. 1. Lewis historical publishing Company. p. 128. OCLC 2576742.
  15. ^ Emory G. Evans, " Corbin, Richard (1713 or 1714-20 May 1790)" in Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 3, pp. 466-468 also available at https://ehttps://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.asp?b=Corbin_Richard/
  16. ^ Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, vol. 1 pp. 158-159
  17. ^ Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography (1915), vol. 1 p. 218
  18. ^ Sankey, Margaret D. "Randolph, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23125. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  19. ^ Emory G. Evans, A "Topping People": The Rise and Decline of Virginia's Old Political Elite, 1680–1790 (2009), pp. 18–19
  20. ^ Dillon, John Forrest, ed. (1903). "Introduction". John Marshall; life, character and judicial services as portrayed in the centenary and memorial addresses and proceedings throughout the United States on Marshall day, 1901, and in the classic orations of Binney, Story, Phelps, Waite and Rawle. Vol. I. Chicago: Callaghan & Company. pp. liv–lv. ISBN 9780722291474.
  21. ^ Lancaster, Robert Alexander (1915). Historic Virginia homes and churches (Now in the public domain. ed.). Lippincott. pp. 343. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  22. ^ {{Bantam Books/Lyle Stuart Publishing; Lundberg, Ferdinand, The rich and the super-rich, 1968, 165‒177
  23. ^ Fortune 500 2008: Fortune 1000 1–100, 2008-05-05, https://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2008/full_list/
  24. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  25. ^ David Cannadine, Mellon: An American Life (2006) ISBN 0-679-45032-7.
  26. ^ a b Phillips, Kevin P (2003). Wealth and democracy: a political history of the American rich. New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 9780767905343.
  27. ^ Haseler, Stephen (5 May 2000). The Super-Rich: The Unjust New World of Global Capitalism. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780312230050.
  28. ^ a b Essvale Corporation Limited (2008). Business Knowledge for IT in Private Wealth Management: A Complete Handbook for IT Professionals. London: Essvale Corporation Limited. p. 45. ISBN 9780955412493.
  29. ^ Ferguson, Niall (1 November 1999). The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets: 1798-1848. Vol. 1 (First ed.). New York: Penguin Books. p. 481‒85. ISBN 0140240845.
  30. ^ Popova, Elena (2008). Through Alien Eyes: A View of America and Intercultural Marriages. New York: Algora Publishing. pp. 51. ISBN 9780875866390.
  31. ^ Brass, Tom (2014). Class, Culture and the Agrarian Myth. Leiden: Brill. p. 240. ISBN 9789004259973.
  32. ^ Haseler, Stephen (2012). The Grand Delusion: Britain After Sixty Years of Elizabeth II. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 258. ISBN 9781780760735.
  33. ^ Alan B. Spitzer, "Restoration Political Theory and the Debate over the Law of the Double Vote" Journal of Modern History 55#1 (1983) pp. 54–70 online

Further reading edit

  • Fisher, Nick, and Hans Van Wees, eds. Aristocracy in Antiquity: Redefining Greek and Roman Elites (ISD LLC, 2015).
  • Janssens, Paul, and Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla, eds. European Aristocracies and Colonial Elites: Patrimonial Management Strategies and Economic Development, 15th–18th Centuries (Routledge, 2017).
  • McDonogh, Gary Wray. Good families of Barcelona: A social history of power in the industrial era (Princeton University Press, 2014).
  • Pincon, Michel, and Monique Pincon-Charlot. Grand Fortunes. Dynasties and Forms of Wealth in France (1998) excerpt
  • Porter, John. The vertical mosaic: An analysis of social class and power in Canada (1965).
  • Rothacher, Albrecht. The Japanese power elite (2016).
  • Schutte, Kimberly. Women, Rank, and Marriage in the British Aristocracy, 1485–2000: An Open Elite? (2014).
  • Stone, Lawrence. An open elite?: England, 1540–1880 (1986).

United States edit

  • Aldrich, Nelson W. (1996). Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America. New York: Allworth Press. ISBN 9781880559642.
  • Allen, Irving Lewis. "WASP—From Sociological Concept to Epithet", Ethnicity 2.2 (1975): 153–162.
  • Baltzell, E. Digby. Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a New Upper Class (1958).
  • Beckert, Sven. The monied metropolis: New York City and the consolidation of the American bourgeoisie, 1850–1896 (2003).
  • Brooks, David. Bobos in paradise: The new upper class and how they got there (2010)
  • Davis, Donald F. "The Price of Conspicious [sic] Production: The Detroit Elite and the Automobile Industry, 1900–1933." Journal of Social History 16.1 (1982): 21–46. online
  • Farnum, Richard. "Prestige in the Ivy League: Democratization and discrimination at Penn and Columbia, 1890–1970." in Paul W. Kingston and Lionel S. Lewis, eds. The high-status track: Studies of elite schools and stratification (1990).
  • Foulkes, Nick. High Society – The History of America's Upper Class, (Assouline, 2008) ISBN 2759402886.
  • Fraser, Steve and Gary Gerstle, eds. Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy, Harvard University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-674-01747-1.
  • Ghent, Jocelyn Maynard, and Frederic Cople Jaher. "The Chicago Business Elite: 1830–1930. A Collective Biography." Business History Review 50.3 (1976): 288–328. online
  • Hood, Clifton. In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City's Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis (2016). Covers 1760–1970.
  • Ingham, John N. The Iron Barons: A Social Analysis of an American Urban Elite, 1874–1965 (1978)
  • Jaher, Frederic Cople, ed. The Rich, the Well Born, and the Powerful: Elites and Upper Classes in History (1973), essays by scholars
  • Jaher, Frederick Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Chicago, Charleston, and Los Angeles (1982).
  • Lundberg, Ferdinand: The Rich and the Super-Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today (1968)
  • McConachie, Bruce A. "New York operagoing, 1825–50: creating an elite social ritual." American Music (1988): 181–192. online
  • Maggor, Noam. Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of Wealth and Populism in America's First Gilded Age (Harvard UP, 2017); 304 pp. online review
  • Ostrander, Susan A. (1986). Women of the Upper Class. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-0-87722-475-4.
  • Phillips, Kevin P. Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, Broadway Books 2003, ISBN 0-7679-0534-2.
  • Story, Ronald. (1980) The forging of an aristocracy: Harvard & the Boston upper class, 1800-1870
  • Williams, Peter W. Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression (2016), especially in New York City