The Original ‘Stay Out of Our Country Club’ Scandal

The country club myth is a good one. It’s the only example of historical exclusion Jews can use in America.

Country club exclusion is the fallback nostalgia complaint of Jews occupying many positions of power within the American political system and earning more per household on average than whites.

From the left’s victim rock-paper-scissors, not being allowed into a country club looks weak in the coalition of slavery, Chinese exclusion acts, Operation Wetback or supposed patriarchal oppression women in America.

For the ultimate in terms of market-dominant immigrant minority achievers, whether in money, positions of power or status, the narrative of country club exclusion is their small chip to claim outsider status.

Country clubs do have a mystique. There is a reason for the Left to target them by their standards.

Business can easily be discussed outside the formal meetings, whether economic, political or social. Introductions can be made. Relationships can be strengthened. The informal setting allows off-the-record talks to take place. The concerns of a business deal that one may not want to air to all parties in a formal presentation can be smoothed out behind club doors. Problems in town can be discussed by the well-to-do and powerful members of a community outside of town hall meeting notes. If the old boys network or the patriarchy has a physical house to burn down, it is the private country club. This is why there is always a push for minorities and women to be allowed into them.

The Left must destroy any potential rival for power, whether informal or formal.

The “we weren’t let into country clubs” story does have a start, but oddly enough, it does not start in a country club. It begins with a hotel and quite possibly the first family of American 19th century Jews, the Seligmans. The Seligmans, led by Joseph Seligman, were a banking powerhouse.

Joseph had immigrated to America and moved from peddling wares to banking through his shrewd business decisions. The transition from retail to banking occurred after the San Francisco fire of May 1851. This fire left the Seligman’s general store as the only one left standing. While supposedly prices were not raised to take advantage of the situation, that monopoly led to the Seligmans sending millions in gold back east. Banking, in an era of wide open and unregulated business, became their trade under J & W. Seligman & Co.

The Seligmans were part of the One Hundred, who were the elite Jewish families in New York not part of the Four Hundred of the New York social elite, which skewed predominantly WASP. The Seligmans were part of the city’s elite, and further proof of this would be Seligman’s inclusion in the Committee of Seventy that was formed in 1871 as a reform group to audit, investigate, and clean up the abuses of Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall crowd. This was the 19th century form of the Gotham Gentry Deep City that has stepped in at different times to save the city from political corruption.

The Committee of Seventy was formed after Tweed’s control of the city’s safety was called into question after riots. The elites had lost faith in his management of the city and could not look the other way with regards to the corruption any longer. Tweed’s Ring was attacked, prosecuted, and imprisoned through the 1870s, with Tweed himself being jailed in 1876. Tweed died in jail in 1878. Seligman was a part of the intra-city tussle for power, as well as being a huge player with federal government finances from the Civil War onwards.

This is what makes the Seligman-Hilton hotel incident a curious “we won’t let you into country clubs” event. It was 1877 when the Seligman family decided to go to Saratoga and visit the Grand Union Hotel. Saratoga was a premier destination for the Eastern elite, along with Newport, Rhode Island. The Grand Union Hotel was owned and operated by Judge Henry Hilton. This man inherited the hotel from a rival of Seligmans, and Hilton himself (no relation to the hotel Hilton family) was a major figure in the Tweed political machine.

The Seligmans were advised not to go to the hotel. No proof is ever produced that they went to Saratoga and were denied entrance, or if they just inquired about attending. But many witnesses state that some of the Seligmans showed up and were rebuffed. Hilton was open about his right to deny service. Hilton also made a point to note that it was Israelite presence that he felt was hurting his business. No one quite knows if Seligman was testing Hilton’s supposed anti-semitic policy, or if he just sent part of the party and remained in New York City.

Seligman did not just send the family to a new hotel. Seligman wrote a letter to Hilton, and he released the letter to the newspapers. The New York Times of June 19th, 1877, published an article on the event on the front page. Here it is in original form. Hilton was roasted in the papers, in political cartoons, and polite society. Taking the contemporary Tweed drama into account, this was a huge public relations win for the side of reforms and the Committee of Seventy. A Tweed political operator was a bad man for excluding Jews. Seligman was the innocent man, who was wrongly excluded and denied entry to the hotel. This adds to the mystery of what exactly was the motivation of old man Seligman.

This was the first publicized case of anti-semitism in America. Ripple effects of this event moved beyond just this one hotel in the era of free association. Media shaming did not stop businesses from reacting. The immediate effects were not just in one direction. Other hotels and resorts started to advertise as excluding Jewish individuals and families, while an entire industry of Jewish-only resorts and hotels sprung up in the Adirondacks. Some of the Jewish camps that downstate New York Jewish families send their children to for four-to-six weeks sprung from this incident.

Seligman’s exclusion created the seeds for modern nostalgia discrimination essays from American Jewish media members. The “not allowed in country clubs” refrain is not as innocent as it’s portrayed. Like all media events, there is something bigger at stake. The fight between what the Left frames as inclusion today, versus the right of the freedom of association continues to this day, with the Left forever seeking new groups to infiltrate and ruin.

At the heart of it is the Left’s jealous desire to destroy all potential rival nodes of power.

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