A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors

 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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  Part I-Chapter 1 : Patroons and Manor Lords  > Index and Introduction  :   12   Next »

   Patroons and Manor Lords  - the landed gentry of New York  

The Van Rensselaers - the richest family of New Netherland
The Van Rensselaers - mighty patroons of Rensselaerswyck 
                 The Greenbush line of Van Rensselaers from Claverack

The Livingstons - manor lords, economic factors and statesmen
Robert Livingston 1st   and the building of the Manor
Philip Livingston’s line - Lords of the Manor
Robert Livingston and the Clermont line
                 Other Livingstons and their descendants
Livingstons and American aristocracy
                Livingston pioneers in American transportation

 Other manor lords and related families
                 The Van Cortlands and Cortland Manor 
                 Frederick Philipse's Philipsburgh
The Morrises of Morrisania

From the Encyclopedia of American Wealth
                 Family Profiles :  Livingston - Morris - Philipse - Van Rensselaer

Our quest to trace the history of the wealthy and powerful families of America, takes us back to the origins of white settlements on the North American continent. During the first half of the 17th century, what is now called the Old East of the Unites States was populated by peaceful Indian tribes, in their generous and extensive way, which was so uncommon for people from the densely populated Old Continent. Land was plentiful, forests on a scale that had not existed in Europe for a thousand years, and it was left to the imagination of every pioneer, to gather the magnitude of natural resources and the opportunities that arose from trading these in Amsterdam, London and other cities for gold. True, the first settlements were adventuresome and occasional Indian raids could prove fatal, yet no land on earth promised so large rewards to the brave and steady and time was decidedly in favor of the settlers.

The motivations of the first settlers were diverse; some were adventurers, thrilled by the discovery of a New World, others fled Europe to practice their religion freely, still others merely sought fortune - but all thrived to establish a presence in America. Soon, there were leaders in all parts of the Colonies, men who understood better than others, how to wrest control over the land and resources from the Indians and how to keep a large part of the prize for themselves and their families. They were master organizers and strong persuaders, well connected with the established powers or popular with the common men, like John Winthrop who established the Boston settlement in Massachusetts (1630), Roger Williams who founded Providence in Rhode Island (1636) or William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania (1683). While many of these men were real leaders and pioneers, others like Kiliaen Van Rensselaer acceded to wealth in the Colonies by their already established position in the Old World.

Thus as soon as the first settlements were firmly established, large fortunes were made or increased by the leaders of the new colonies. The origins and nature of the thereby created wealth depended on the natural conditions, the political system of the respective colonies and density of settler population reached after the initial period. In New England, land permitted self sustaining farming and was generally owned by the settlers, larger fortunes were made through trading of beaver skins and other resources by the enterprising shipping merchants. In the South, the successful establishment of plantations fueled population growth and the ascent of planters to an aristocratic lifestyle, a tendency further enhanced by the introduction of slavery. In New York, where settlement was slower, the systems of patroonship and manor lordship allowed for huge land tracts, along with feudal rights, to be granted to the able and well connected. Thus, the landed gentry of New York and New Jersey, first represented by the patroons of the Dutch West India Company then by the manor lords instituted by the English Crown, are among the first families in America who can be classified as detainers of large fortunes.

Patroons and Manor Lords  > Index and Introduction  :   1 - 2  Next »   

Patroons and Manor Lords

Planter  Aristocrats

Shipping Merchants

The Landlords of New YorkCity

Bankers I

Early American Industrialists


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