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Social Aristocracy


John Singleton Copley, “The Copley Family,” 1776

2,532 words

In the United States and England there has long existed the loose idea of a white social aristocracy arising from birth, old money, and social position that exercises a kind of fascination over people’s minds.

The idea of the WASP is one important aspect of this, as was the old Social Register. “The WASP” certainly obsessed Jews — who evidently invented the term — and still does.

The difficulty with trying to analyze or discuss the concept intelligently is that it is so amorphous and difficult-to-pin-down.

Moreover, it is easy to import, or to confuse it with, other, different, though perhaps tangentially related phenomena such as primogeniture (a mode of property inheritance), patrilineal kinship systems and ideologies, titled nobility, “hereditary genius,” etc.

And yet, it seems to be in some sense real. The fact that Jews hated the preexisting social aristocracy so fervently, evidently viewing it as their single greatest obstacle to control (not much of one, obviously, but Jews, self-centered and emotionally insistent, want EVERYTHING—NOW!), lends some credence to the idea that something of this nature existed, at least if viewed from a Judeocentric perspective.

Personally, I do not think that “WASPs” existed as a coherent, objective, conscious social entity with that particular self-conceptualization until after Jews “invented,” defined, and labeled the category. It is interesting that whites should so easily adopt it as valid in its entirety after the fact. After all, other interpretations are possible.

In any event, “WASPs” folded instantly before the furious Jewish onslaught, proving themselves to be the ultimate paper tiger.

Chroniclers of the Social Aristocracy

A noted chronicler of this type of “aristocracy” was Stephen Birmingham in books such as The Right People: A Portrait of the American Social Establishment [2] (1968), The Right Places [3] (1973), and America’s Secret Aristocracy [4] (1987).

Birmingham is unique among such authors in that he also acknowledged the existence of and examined in a similar way the moneyed elites of other important American ethnic groups: Real Lace [5] (1973) (the Irish); Certain People [6] (1977) (blacks); and, most famously, his trilogy about Jews: “Our Crowd” [7] (1967) (German Jews), The Grandees [8] (1971) (Sephardim), and The Rest of Us [9] (1984) (Ashkenazic-East European Jews).

Cleveland Amory’s The Proper Bostonians [10] (1947) (neatly skewered by Doris Parkman in Saturday Review [11]—her observations about the male-oriented nature of that social clique during its dying days were new to me) and Who Killed Society? [12] (1960) belong to this genre, as does, really, Paul Fussell’s Class: A Guide Through the American Status System [13] (1983).

The one social scientist to write persuasively and informatively on the subject was a Trotskyite (or Trotskyite-leaning, I believe) sociologist named G. William Domhoff. In his first and best book, Who Rules America? [14] (1967) (beware of subsequent, revised editions), he not only included Jews, but identified each one he named as a “Jewish member of the power elite.”

He wrote several other worthwhile books afterward, including one about the Bohemian Grove, but was lassoed back into the corral on the Jewish question early-on; by 1982 he co-authored a book with a Jew that bore the comical, opposite-of-the-truth title, Jews in the Protestant Establishment [15]. The slender volume did identify a ton of Jews, though.

Muckraking left-wing journalist Ferdinand Lundberg, of Swedish and Norwegian parentage, contended in two bestsellers, America’s 60 Families [16] (1937) and The Rich and the Super-Rich [17] (1968), that an aristocracy of white families ruled America through their control of wealth. His thesis was wrong even in 1937, never mind 1968. I exchanged letters with him; he was an acerbic individual like Sam Francis.

Lundberg asserted explicitly—and, again, wrongly—that although some Jews were extremely wealthy, unlike whites they did not rule.

American Aristocrats

It is easy to list examples of the kind of “aristocrats” I’m talking about.

The Adams (professional wealth) and Lowell (business wealth) families of New England produced several generations of distinguished descendants that classically fit the category.

When I was 12, I exchanged letters with an elderly lady, Abigail Adams Homans, probably through my hobby of autograph collecting; I no longer recall for sure. She sent me, gratis, an autographed copy of her slender autobiography, Education by Uncles (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1966).

The book’s first sentence was: “When I speak of my background I am speaking of something that is as dead as the Dodo.”

Mrs. Homans was the daughter of John Quincy Adams II [18], grandson of the president of the same name; her mother was a Crowinshield [19]. If you glance over those Wikipedia entries, or several they connect to, or the entry about her brother, Charles Francis Adams III [20] (Secretary of the Navy under Herbert Hoover; Charles’s entry contains an Adams family genealogical chart on which she appears as Abigail “Hitty” Adams), you will quickly gain an idea of the complex kinship structure that characterized such families.

Abigail, who had four children of her own, was the mother of Harvard sociologist George C. Homans [21] (The Human Group; Social Behavior), the founder of behavioral sociology and exchange theory.

There are probably many other academics with similar social aristocratic backgrounds. Offhand I can think of liberal Harvard University historian Samuel Eliot Morison (his biography of Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea [22], won the Pulitzer Prize, and poet T. S. Eliot was descended from the same maternal line), and Columbia University historian Robert Livingston Schuyler [23].

I had read that Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam (Bowling Alone), raised a Methodist, was a member of the prominent Putnam family [24] (military service, publishing), but cannot confirm it. He not only married a Jew, but converted to Judaism, “particularly attracted by the ‘unique and intense of community’ [sic] he found among Jews” [25]—certainly a powerful sign of Jewish social unity and dominance over WASPs.

Carleton Putnam, Delta Airlines chairman, racialist author (Race and Reason: A Yankee View; Race and Reality), and bankroller of Wilmot Robertson’s Instauration magazine [26], was a scion of the New England Putnams, and University of Pennsylvania physical anthropologist Carleton Coon (The Races of Europe, The Origin of Races, The Living Races of Man) was related to Carleton Putnam through both Carletons and Putnams.

Descendants of member of the Continental Congress and judge John Lowell included textile mill founder Francis Cabot Lowell; poets James Russell Lowell, Amy Lowell, and Robert Lowell (1917–1977); and astronomer Percival Lowell.

As President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856–1943) instituted limits on Jewish student enrollment. Those horrible “limits” were actually several times higher than the self-proclaimed Jewish percentage of the American population.

The Lawrences (Abbot Lowell’s maternal ancestors) were originally New England mill owners.

The Cabots (business wealth) are another big family of this type (e.g., Francis Cabot Lowell, above), and included immigration restrictionist Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., who kept us out of the League of Nations, and Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Specialty chemicals firm Cabot Corporation and its spinoff Cabot Microelectronics were founded by members of this family.

There is even a nearly invisible stratum of bluebloods in Hollywood.

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.’s brother, John Lodge [27], starred in The Scarlet Empress and as Bulldog Drummond. Later he served as Republican Representative from, and Governor of, Connecticut, as well as a US Ambassador.

Rhode Island-born film director Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Dirty Dozen) was the grandson of US Senator Nelson W. Aldrich (R.-R. I.) (finance) and a cousin of John D. Rockefeller III and Nelson Rockefeller.

Also in this group are actors Otto Kruger, grandnephew of South African pioneer and president Paul Kruger, Jodie Foster [28], a descendant of Mayflower passengers John and Priscilla Alden and William and Alice Mullins, and Reese Witherspoon, who is descended from Scottish Presbyterian reformer John Knox and signer of the Declaration of Independence John Witherspoon.

The Rockefellers (industrial wealth) and Bushes (financial wealth, politics) are so well-known that I needn’t discuss them.

I’ve written previously about two Johnson & Johnson Co. heirs, cousins Jamie Johnson (“The Illusive ‘WASP Establishment’—Again” [29]) and Casey Johnson (“WASPs in the Jewish Establishment: The Short Unhappy Life of Casey Johnson” [30]).

Founding father and first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court John Jay was of French Huguenot and Dutch descent. He married Sarah Livingston, who came from another large social aristocratic family.

Co-author of The Federalist Papers with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, Jay wrote in The Federalist No. 2 [31], “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs . . .”

Two Jay descendants were prominent in the early 20th century.

Author and essayist John Jay Chapman (1862–1933) in the 1920s became a celebrated supporter of the second Ku Klux Klan, writing for its Kourier magazine. He shifted his viewpoint from philo-Semitic to anti-Semitic under the influence of his brother-in-law, a descendant of John Jacob Astor.

Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945) advocated liberty in a pro-Communist era and was rendered socially marginal as a result. (He titled his 1943 autobiography Memoirs of a Superfluous Man.) Nock’s two-part essay “The Jewish Problem in America,” published in The Atlantic Monthly in June and July 1941, was deemed anti-Semitic and seriously harmed his career.

Families like those I’ve named were composed of large, loose kinship networks. They were no match, obviously, for the intense ethnocentrism and hatred directed at them by an incredibly tightly organized and always-on-the-offensive Jewish community, and collapsed easily before it.

It is easy to identify social aristocratic kinship networks of this kind, which existed regionally and on the state and local levels as well.

Indeed, while writing this I’ve been consulting a favorite reference work, Webster’s Biographical Dictionary (1943), which I bought used for $2.00 twenty years ago. Its former owners’ names are written neatly in a female hand inside the front cover: “Pauline and Cargill Macmillan [32], February, 1944.”

Plutocratic Jukeses?

William L. Pierce said of the Rockefellers: “Four generations of plutocratic Jukes [33]‘s is enough.”

In light of what America has undergone since the victory of the Jews, is this a fair characterization of the old aristocracy?

Wilmot Robertson has a fascinating chapter in The Dispossessed Majority [34] called “The Split in the Ranks.” In it he notes that the downfall of the white race “could never have taken place without a Majority ‘split in the ranks’—without the active assistance and participation of Majority members themselves.”

Social aristocrats in American politics tend to fall into a category he calls “Gracchites”—men who pitch their electoral appeals to non-white races as well as oppressed classes.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush are prime examples. “In a multiracial state the well-born, ambitious member of a dominant race,” Robertson writes, “is constantly tempted to take the Gracchite route to power.”

John Adams perceived both the aristocratic and Gracchite tendencies in America during the earliest days of the republic.

In his famous 1813 discussion with Thomas Jefferson about “natural” versus “artificial” aristocracy [35], Adams asserted that there is “as much difference in the races of men as in the breeds of sheep,” and pronounced himself “a sharp reprover and censurer of the sordid mercenary practice of disgracing birth by preferring gold to it.”

In our day the Bushes (Jeb Bush married a mestizo) and Kennedys (Caroline Kennedy married a Jew named Schlossberg) are among those who have “disgraced their birth.”

“Moral, intellectual, and physical” differences resulting from “a descent from pious, virtuous, wealthy, literary, or scientific ancestors” proved the existence of “inequalities in families, descents, and generations.”

Whether by happy accident, or the result of an uncanny confirmation of his own hypothesis, Adams became the progenitor of exactly such a family as he described.

Adams discerned the effects of high birth in electoral contests, where Massachusetts’ “Winthrops, Winslows, Bradfords, Saltonstalls, Quincys, Chandlers, Leonards, Hutchinsons, Olivers, Sewalls, etc., are precisely in the situation of your [Virginia’s] Randolphs, Carters, Burwells, and Harrisons . . . all respected for their names and connections and whenever they fall in with the popular sentiments, are preferred to all others.” (Emphasis added.)

“Aaron Burr,” Adams noted, “had 100,000 votes from the single circumstance of his descent from President Burr and President Edwards.” (Burr’s father, Aaron Burr Sr., was president of Princeton University; his maternal grandfather, Calvinist theologian Jonathan Edwards, replaced Burr Sr. in that post after his early death.)

It has been said, probably correctly (or almost correctly), that “the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.”

At least in terms of conformity and beliefs this seems to be the case.

The social aristocracy of the late 20th century constituted a rapidly dwindling aristocracy of descent, status, moderate (but usually not Forbes 400-level) wealth, but with little real social influence. That’s what Abigail Adams Homans meant when she said in 1966 that the background she came from was deader than a Dodo.

Members were prominent mostly on the second- or third-tiers of society, in law and other professions, insurance, investment and wealth management, retail banking, serving as corporate CEOs and directors, museum curators, university professors and administrators, diplomats, and, of course, politicians. But Ferdinand Lundberg was certainly wrong to say that they controlled power in the US during the 20th century.

This weak-form “aristocratic” pattern is clearly discernible in Stephen Birmingham’s America’s Secret Aristocracy. The book’s title gives a misleading impression of what it is about. The aristocracy depicted is “secret” only in the sense that it is invisible and highly marginal in its national significance or impact.

Jamie Johnson, mentioned above, said in an interview that despite having a sheltered, upper class upbringing, he didn’t realize his family was rich until he was fairly old. That is consistent with the picture painted by Birmingham.

In terms of Communism, race, and other highly contentious social issues, neither aristocracy nor high IQ seem to impart independence of mind to their possessors. Such people think and behave pretty much like everybody else. They conform.

Think of the Rockefeller cousins or Patty Hearst during the radical upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s. How did their psychology or behavior really differ from that of other whites?

Low-profile corporate executive Kiliaen Van Rensselaer [36], 42, a scion of a famous New York Dutch patroon family, is unusual in that he has a German girlfriend, is libertarian, and does not denigrate his own heritage—indeed, he has studied it.

Even the small minority of aristocrats closer to real power, the Gracchites who participate extensively in politics at the highest levels, such as Franklin Roosevelt, the Kennedys (Irish), Rockefellers, or Bushes, invariably play second banana to those who wield true power.

As a recalcitrant President George H. W. Bush (the father) candidly told reporters in September 1991 during an AIPAC push on Capitol Hill to obtain a $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel: “I’m one lonely little guy” up against “some powerful political forces.”

Of course, the Jews won and Bush lost. Indeed, his opposition to the grant may have cost him his presidency.

While an American aristocracy did exist, it was more of an implicit than an explicit entity, and its weak-form ethnic consciousness, social coherence, and ability to act in concert did not remotely approach that of the Jews’, who instantly displaced them.

“The Wasp old guard put up the white flag without a shot being fired,” essayist Joseph Epstein declared [37].