Gilded age Quotes (16 Quotes)
“America's industrial success produced a roll call of financial magnificence: Rockefellers, Morgans, Astors, Mellons, Fricks, Carnegies, Goulds, du Ponts, Belmonts, Harrimans, Huntingtons, Vanderbilts, and many more based in dynastic wealth of essentially inexhaustible proportions. John D. Rockefeller made $1 billion a year, measured in today's money, and paid no income tax. No one did, for income tax did not yet exist in America. Congress tried to introduce an income tax of 2 percent on earnings of $4,000 in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Income tax wouldn't become a regular part of American Life until 1914. People would never be this rich again.
Spending all this wealth became for many a more or less full-time occupation. A kind of desperate, vulgar edge became attached to almost everything they did. At one New York dinner party, guests found the table heaped with sand and at each place a little gold spade; upon a signal, they were invited to dig in and search for diamonds and other costly glitter buried within. At another party - possibly the most preposterous ever staged - several dozen horses with padded hooves were led into the ballroom of Sherry's, a vast and esteemed eating establishment, and tethered around the tables so that the guests, dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, could enjoy the novel and sublimely pointless pleasure of dining in a New York ballroom on horseback.”
“This was, after all, New Orleans in 1890- the Crescent City of the Gilded Age, where aliases of convenience and unconventional living arrangements were anything but out of the ordinary, at least in certain parts of town. Identities were fluid here, and names and appearances weren't always the best guide to telling who was who.”
“I used to go to church. I even went through a rather intense religious period when I was sixteen. But the idea of an everlasting life -- a never-ending banquet, as a stupid visiting minister to our church once appallingly described it -- filled me with a greater terror than the concept of extinction...”
“Not the least of the hardships to which the dying are subject is the visitation of their loved ones. The poor darlings, God bless them, may feel every impulse to condole and console, but their primary sensation is nonetheless one of embarrassment in the presence of the unspeakable and a guilty gratitude that it is not yet their fate.”
“But Pierre had been born with a shrewdness that made him early aware that a failure to believe that human events were ordered by a higher power was regarded by many in the highest positions as obnoxious and even sinful, and as nothing was to be gained by exciting such hostility, it was better to give a silent or even smiling assent to the fatuous idealism to which, particularly in youth, one was so relentlessly exposed.”