The Knickerbockers effectively ruled New York through the end of the civil war. “Mrs. Astor” and her ruling 400 were the social register. They kept out the riff raff, such as that odious character and merchant Cornelius Vanderbilt. They attended the opera, gave lavish parties, and kept their private lives hidden behind the staid foundations of their beloved brownstones.
The end of the Civil War brought an influx of “Nouveau Riche” to New York, and the Knickerbocracy was having none of it. So the Nouveau Riche, ever cunning, simply took their money and daughters to England, and bought titles by marriage.
The young ladies from America were more animated and outgoing than their English counterparts. Plus, they had money to spare, which the majority of the English gentry did not. American mamas were not remiss in pushing their daughters to the front of the line.