The Super Wealthy

Taryn Allen

Spencer Chun

Liesa Covey

Gavin Creps

Ben Guido

The American dream is to not have to work and be able to support your family for numerous generations.  Beginning with the Gilded Age people began to strive to be super wealthy.  Super Wealthy means that all expenses that are necessary or unnecessary can be bought.  Items are owned that are not needed but they are owned simply to show status in society.  The super wealthy were first seen in the Gilded Age but changed randomly through the 1920’s, 1950’s and the 1980’s. 

            The Gilded Age showed the small rise of the first super wealthy families.  The beginning of the super wealthy started with Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and Carnegie’s United Steel.  They begin to make huge profits for this era by mastering pools and trusts.  Pools and trust are formed by corporations to reduce competition.   Their goal is to divide the market to set rates and guarantee profits, so trusts can make great deals after they beat the competition.  Once they began to get all their money they set a new social class, the super wealthy.  Rockefeller and Carnegie could afford anything that was needed or not needed.  They had enough money to have there future generations set for no work.  The two families used pools and trusts to set a new social class.  The size of home you had and how well you could support your family placed you in your status class.  When the first automobiles began to be manufactured only the super wealthy would own them. 

            Throughout the 1920’s, industry and interest in business grew. It became a symbol of wealth to buy and sell stocks on the New York stock exchange.  For the most part, the extremely rich mainly rained their status and increased their wealth through increasing stocks and businesses.  One of the most notable figures of “new money” was Joseph P. Kennedy, who would later become famous for the accomplishments of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.  By the 1920’s Kennedy was able to give all nine of his children one million dollars each to invest for their future.  In October of 1929, the stock market crashed, a day that would become known as Black Wednesday and cause superstition and caution to stoke brokers today.  Most brokers lost practically everything they had invested, however some managed to sell their stocks in time.  During the Great Depression some wealthy managed to still live a luxurious lifestyle, such as the Kennedy’s.  Both Robert and John Kennedy would later describe how the Kennedy children didn’t even know there was a Depression until after they reached college.

            The 1950's were all about who had the nice cars and who had the best parties, but the excessively high tax made life for the super wealthy person quite difficult. One of the most popular lines of cars was Ford. The inventor of the assembly line made big off of his quickly and efficiently made cars. To have a nice car was definitely a sign of wealth in the 1950's. It was just like having a nice house with a big lawn, but this you took everywhere. Another thing that really showed that you were wealthy was how good of a party you threw. Getting drunk as if you didn't have to worry about anything was a common theme among the rich. This sign of lack of responsibilities showed that you could afford a little missing cash. One thing that caused these wealthy people to miss more cash than usual however was the high tax rate of the 1950's. During this time the marginal tax rate on very rich people was up to 91%. It was common to see a big company with loads of extra money going to the CEO so they could keep up with this. The wealthy in the 1950's weren't really as wealthy as they pretended to be.

            All throughout the 1980’s, many Americans took out the words “you” and “we” and replaced them with “me” and “I”.  With this new concept of bettering yourself, some people didn’t get a whole lot wealthier, yet others got extremely wealthy.  For example, Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, and Ivan Boesky all became super wealthy and showed off true American living.  Though some better off now than others, they all have, at one point in time or another, their downfalls.  It is how they recover from those downfalls and make the best out of them that sets them apart from ordinary civilians.  For example, Trump was not only in business debt at one time, but personal debt too.  Leona, though not in so much debt as Trump, had to deal with many lawsuits and prison, for a short amount of time, due to incomplete and careless tax forms and other business legal documents.  Lastly Ivan’s downfall was when he went to prison for betting on corporation takeovers, getting info on the “who’s who and what’s what”; sometimes placing illegal bets within days of the initial takeover.  From all of their downfalls to the present, Trump has built many big business buildings, casinos, and much more, Leona inherited her husband’s death, which was well in excess of $5 billion, and Ivan had over 200 million dollars he gained through his illegal bets on takeovers.


External Links:


The Gilded Age


Gilded Age - a brief summary of life in the Gilded Age featuring Carnegie and Rockefeller

Gilded Age: Industrial Revolution - a website devoted to the Industrial Age and the wealthy. Describing the ways to succeed and become apart of the wealthy society at the time.

Themes of the Gilded Age - featuring various links to many sections highlighting the main themes of this era.


The 1920s


Biography of Joseph P. Kennedy - the life of Joseph Kennedy describing his role in the 1920’s and the stock market.

Stock Market Crash - an in depth website giving the details of the crash in 1929.

The Great Depression - giving several summaries of the Great Depression and the effects of American society.


The 1950s


Wealthy Americans of the 1950s -the wealthy families of the 1950s  giving a summary of the aftermath of the Great Depression.

Are the Rich Really Different- an editorial giving a summary of the economy in the 1950s and questioning the rich society during that time period.


The 1980s


The 1980s - the regeneration of the American Dream and the image of greed shown at this time.

Donald Trump Biography - the super wealthy idol of the 1980s.