The Gilded Age, which began in the years after the Civil War, was characterized by wealthy railroad tycoons, steel barons, and sugar kings who quite literally had more money than they knew what to do with. However, there was a catch: they weren’t royalty, and that just wouldn’t do.
The American Constitution forbids the American government from giving out titles of nobility, and elected officials are not supposed to accept a claim that is given to them from a foreign country. For example, if the Queen of England were to knight somebody and that same man was to go on to be elected to Congress, he would be expected to drop the title that he obtained.
There were some excellent reasons for spurning the idea of nobility in the New World. The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that the system that they created, which would evolve into what we now understand as democracy, wouldn’t become compromised through a network of status and privilege (though some would argue that happened anyway, without formal titles). Still, who wouldn’t want to become a baroness, a duchess, or even a princess? The American government seems to only stand in the way of your dreams.
But when you are so filthy rich that you have a gold-plated toilet in your bathroom, you can figure out a way to buy your way out of that quandary. Enter the dollar princesses, the daughters of these super-wealthy elites whose parents paid top-dollar dowries so that they could marry into the British aristocracy. Read on to learn more about the practice that led to the dollar princesses and how their legacy can still be seen.