mardi 23 janvier 2018

"Our Crowd" ("notre bande"): Les cent familles juives qui régnèrent sur New York au 19e siècle

Le bestseller de Stephen Birmingham "Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York" est une référence incontestée en la matière. En effet, wikipedia souligne que la thèse défendue dans ce livre (celle des "cent familles" juives régnant sur New York au 19e siècle) n'a jamais été contestée, alors qu'elle est audacieuse et assez proche de confirmer définitivement (du moins en ce qui concerne New York) le "mythe" du lien spécial entre les juifs et l'argent...

"The reception which has been accorded “Our Crowd” shows that the subject was certainly ripe for exploitation. The book has been a best-seller for the past several months; indeed, it has been at the head of the non-fiction list for much of that time. What is more, no one has yet challenged the claim put forward by the book of an exalted social position for Jews. In fact, the opposite has been the case. Louis Auchincloss, who has devoted his talents to the delineation of the WASP upper class of the New York Metropolitan area, has even said that it is hard to understand why “Our Crowd” should only have been the first account of the Jewish upper class."
— Review by Commentary Magazine[3]
(Wikipédia)

Ceux qui auraient envie de rire de cette idée de "cent familles" juives mariées entre elles et régnant sur New York n'ont qu'à lire ce livre, qui l'affirme sans ambages, et qui, rappelons-le n'a fait l'objet d'aucune contradiction ni objection.

"Among the people Granny Goodhart visited were the Loebs, Sachses, Guggenheims, Schiffs, Seligmans, Speyers, Strauses, Warburgs, Lewisohns, and of course other Lehmans and Goodharts. There were also the Baches, the Altschuls, the Bernheimers, Hallgartens, Heidelbachs, lckelheimers, Kahns, Kuhns, Thalmanns, Ladenburgs, Wertheims, Cahns, Bernhards, Sheftels, Mainzers, Stralems, Neustadts, Buttenwiesers, Josephthals, Hellmans, Hammersloughs, Lilienthals, Morgenthaus, Rosenwalds, Walters, and Wolffs. With the exception of the Guggenheims—who came from German-speaking Switzerland— all these families trace their origins to Germany (a surprising number to Bavaria). They have referred to themselves as "the One Hundred," as opposed to "the Four Hundred." They have been called the "Jewish Grand Dukes." But most often they have simply called themselves "our crowd." 
The men of our crowd made their fortunes as merchants or bankers or—in the now somewhat antique phrase—as "merchant bankers." Their business monuments include R. H. Macy  & Company (Strauses), Abraham & Straus (Abrahams, Strauses, and Rothschilds—"the Brooklyn branch" of the European Rothschilds), and a number of celebrated investment and banking houses in Wall Street, including Lehman Brothers; Hallgarten & Company; Speyer & Company; Kuhn, Loeb & Company; Goldman, Sachs & Company; J. & W. Seligman & Company; J. S. Bache & Company; and Carl M. Loeb, Rhoades & Company. Families such as the Lewisohns and Guggenheims, whose fortunes are usually associated with mining and smelting, also maintained banking houses downtown. Some families, such as the Wertheims, moved from manufacturing (cigars) into banking (Wertheim & Company). 
For a long time you either belonged to "our crowd" or you didn't. For several generations the crowd was strikingly intramural when it came to marriage, making the crowd—to the larger crowd outside it—seem so cohesive and tight-knit as to be impenetrable. The "people we visit" became also the people we married. In the first American generation, a number of founding fathers married their own close relatives. Joseph Seligman and his wife were first cousins, and in the next generation Joseph's brother's daughter married Joseph's sister's son. Meyer Guggenheim married his stepsister, and a Lewisohn married his own niece—and had to go to Europe to do it since such a union was, at that time, against the law in the United States—and as a result of this match he became a great-uncle to his children and his brother's son-in-law. Three Seligman brothers married three sisters named Levi; several other Seligmans married Walters, and several married Beers. The Seligmans also followed the Jewish practice of offering widows in the family to the next unmarried son, by which process several women became double Seligmans. Double cousinships abound. Seligmans have also married Hellmans, Loebs, Lewisohns, Lilienthals, Guggenheims, and Lehmans; Lehmans, who have married first-cousin Lehmans, have in addition married Lewisohns, Buttenwiesers, and Ickelheimers; Ickelheimers have married Stralems; Stralems have married Neustadts; Neustadts have married Schiffs; Schiffs have married Loebs and Warburgs; Warburgs have married Loebs, who, of course, have married Seligmans. 
Today the intermarriage within the crowd presents a design of mind-reeling complexity."



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