Extreme social exclusiveness, combined with economic and political power, is seen in the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella. "In Aragon the barons were limited to a few great families who traced their descent from twelve peers . . . . 63 "Class distinctions have ever been closely guarded in Spain . . . . " 64Next Page
The history of Mexico has been a history of social classes, even if they have not been mechanically divided by hue of skin. From original slavery the masses escaped into peonage; from peonage into tenantry and cheap labor. 65
The story of the classes in the thirteen colonies, too, will have to wait more detailed treatment. Here it can be noted, however, that in the case of New Amsterdam and New York the conquest theory broke down, but the theory of social class rigidity held up. Greene states: 66
Notwithstanding these differences in religion and politics, New York was moderately prosperous during the early years of English rule. Some of the thrifty Dutch burghers found it possible to make money and acquire land at least as rapidly as under their own government. Dutch families like the Phillipses and Van Cortlandts were soon represented in the provincial council . . . .
Conclusion. The foregoing illustrations of various kinds of social strata, starting with undifferentiated primitives and prehistoric men and sweeping through history, were set down to convey a thought that most of the peoples class hierarchies of great stability, "and man was the child of his father rather than of his own works," 67 as Mosca says of the ancient Egyptians.
(One does not have to look for extreme instances of ingrown blood relationships, such as the marriage of sibs, to see the "aristocratic" tendencies of all families, except, of course, the destitute and utterly demoralized. Where the family must, because of incest taboos, share with others, the local social class is the next unit of social intimacy. Through social class one family shares with another, giving a daughter and taking another, without relinquishing its hold on whatever monopoly of social prestige the family happens to possess. This is the process of social class maintenance that has been part of every complex society. It belongs to the significant social processes.)
The above is not exhaustive. Many data are to be brought forward concerning social class rigidity in Greece, Rome, the feudal period, modern Europe, and the United States. But this general information gives perspective to the topic of the dissertation.
The following chapter will be given over to the mechanisms that are used, or have been used, to perpetuate social classes and to facilitate the exercise of social class exclusiveness.
63. Bancroft, op. cit., vol. VI, p. 27.
64. Ibid., vol. XI, p. 740.
65. Ibid., vol. XIV, p. 612.
66. Evarts Boutell Greene, The Foundations of American Nationality (New York, 1922) p. 160.
67. Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class, ed. and rev. by Arthur Livingston (New York, 1939) p. 344.