Sunday, February 25, 2018

Etiquette and Social Acceptance

Though incredibly wealthy, the famous Vanderbilt family had not truly been welcomed into New York’s Gilded Age society, and wouldn’t be welcomed unless they were accepted by the ultimate social “judge and jury” of the day, Mrs. Caroline Astor. The Mrs. Astor of the famous list of “400” socially acceptable people... a number based on the limitations of the Astor’s fabulous New York City ballroom, (which was actually a list of merely 319) But, without Astor’s social support, the Vanderbilts were merely the wealthiest “nobodies” in New York society. Soon after the announcement of a forthcoming Vanderbilt ball, but before the formal invitations had been issued, Miss Carrie Astor, took it for granted that, as leaders of society, the Astors would, of course, be invited. Mrs. Vanderbilt heard of this, and told friends that she could not invite Miss Astor to her ball, as her mother “had never called upon her” socially. This reached Mrs. Astor’s ears, and soon after she called upon Mrs. Vanderbilt. She and her daughter were thus invited to the Vanderbilt ball, “making” the Vanderbilts in the process. 

Ball  “Made” Vanderbilts
—————————————————
Magnificent Entertainment Gained Family Formal Recognition by Recognized New York “Society.”

The Vanderbilts obtained their first secure foothold in New York’s leading society by a great fancy-dress ball given by Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt In her beautiful Fifth Avenue house on the evening of March 26, 1883. It surpassed in splendor, in beauty, in brilliancy, and in luxurious and lavish expense any scene before witnessed in New York. But two or three of the leaders of New York society, notably Mrs. William Astor, had never called upon any of the ladies of the Vanderbilt family. 

According to the generally accepted story, soon after the announcement of the forthcoming ball, but before the formal invitations had been issued, Miss Carrie Astor, the only unmarried daughter of Mrs. William Astor, organized a fancy dress quadrille to be danced at the ball by several young ladies and gentlemen, it being taken for granted by the Astors that, as leaders of society, they would, of course, be invited. Mrs. Vanderbilt heard of this, and stated in the hearing of some friends that she could not invite Miss Astor to her ball, as her mother had never called upon her. 

This reached Mrs. Astor’s ears, and soon after she called upon Mrs. Vanderbilt. She and her daughter were invited to the Vanderbilt ball. Thus did the ball break the last barrier down and the Vanderbilt family was firmly established among New York’s social leaders. –Healdsburg Enterprise, 1923

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia