Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Boston Brahmins, or simply "Brahmins"—sometimes also called the First Families of Boston—are a blue-blooded class of New Englanders who claim hereditary or cultural descent from the Anglo-Saxon Protestants who founded the city of Boston, Massachusetts and originally settled New England. They are part of the historic core of the East Coast Establishment, along with wealthy families of New York and Philadelphia.
Some of the Brahmins trace descent back to the original founders of Boston. Others bought their way into society in the 19th century with the profits of commerce, and by marrying into other Brahmin families like the Emersons and Winthrops.
The term Brahmin comes from the Indian caste system, of which the Brahmins are the highest caste. The American phrase was probably coined by writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., as part of a January 1860 article in the Atlantic Monthly called "The Professor's Story."
They are often perceived as marked by their distinctive elocution, high level of education and wealth and generally progressive politics. The nature of the Brahmins is summarized in the doggerel poem, "Boston Toast," by John Collins Bossidy .
- "So this is good old Boston,
- The home of the bean and the cod,
- Where the Lowells talk only to the Cabots,
- And the Cabots talk only to God."
Original Brahmin families
Brahmin families frequently intermarried. According to Yankee magazine and other sources, some Boston Brahmin families include the:
- Adams family
- Cabot family
- Choate family
- Cushing family
- Crowninshield family
- Delano family
- Eliot family
- Emerson family
- Endicott family
- Forbes family
- Holmes Family
- Jackson family
- Jonathan Jackson
- Patrick Tracy Jackson
- Lawrence family
- Lodge family
- Lowell family
- Peabody family
- Phillips family
- Putnam family
- Quincy family
- Saltonstall family
- Sturgis family
- Winthrop family
- Back Bay
- Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
- First families of Philadelphia
- Ivy League
- Kennedy political family
- List of U.S. political families
- Mrs. Astor and The Four Hundred
- Social Register
- "The Brahmin Caste of New England," by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., which first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1860, reproduced in Slate.com
- "The Truth About the Cabots and the Lowells and That Sort of Thing", by Judson D. Hale, Yankee Magazine, September 2003
- Slate.com: "What's a Boston Brahmin?"
- Cornell University Making of America: "The Professor's Story: Chapter I--The Brahmin Caste of New England", Atlantic Monthly, Jan 1860, p. 91
- Let's Go Boston - Boston Brahmins, a history
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