Theodore Roosevelt > New York > Page 114
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  New York.  1906.

Page 114
 
scarlet coats of the officers from the English regiments, constantly quartered in New York because of the recurring French wars. The owners of these coats moved with an air of easy metropolitan superiority, a certain insolently patronizing condescension, which always awakened both the admiration and the jealous anger of the provincial aristocrats. 1 The leading colonial families stood on the same social plane with the English country gentlemen of wealth, and were often connected by marriage with the English nobility; but they could never forget—and were never permitted by their English friends to forget—that after all they were nothing but provincials, and that provincials could not stand quite on an equality with the oldworld people.
  The New York gentry, both of town and country,
Note 1. European travelers naturally enough often to understand the aristocratic constitution of the New York social and governmental systems. The local aristocrats seemed to them uncouth and provincial; they were struck by the fact that they were often engaged in trade or other occupations which gentlemen were forbidden to enter by the European social code; and they saw that it was, of course, much easier than in the Old World for a man of energy to rise from the lowest to the highest round of the social ladder, no matter what his origin was. The aristocracy existed nevertheless. So to a London noble, Squire Western seemed only a boor, and he cordially hated all lords in return; yet Squire Western and his fellows formed at home a true oligarchy. And the constitution of the rude country society in which he lived was as emphatically aristocratic as was that of the capital of England. [ back ]

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