Upper Ten Thousand, or simply, The Upper Ten, is a phrase coined in 1852 by American poet Nathaniel Parker Willis to describe the upper circles of New York, and hence of other major cities.
The phrase first appeared in British fiction in The Adventures of Philip by William Thackeray, whose eponymous hero contributed weekly to a fashionable New York journal entitled “The Gazette of the Upper Ten Thousand”. In 1875, both Adam Bissett Thom and Kelly's Directory published books entitled The Upper Ten Thousand, which listed members of the aristocracy, the gentry, officers in the British Army and Navy, members of Parliament, Colonial administrators, and members of the Church of England. The usage of this term was a response to the broadening of the British ruling class which had been caused by the Industrial Revolution.
Most of the people listed in the Handbook were among the 30,000 descendants of Edward III, King of England, tabulated in the Marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval's Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal. Most also appeared in Walford's County Families and Burke's Landed Gentry.
Edward Abbott's 1864 cookery book, The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many as Well as the 'Upper Ten Thousand', suggests that the concept of an 'upper ten thousand' pre-dates the official publication of Kelly's directory.
Famous quotes containing the words ten thousand, upper, ten and/or thousand:
“Once one is caught up into the material world not one person in ten thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity of philosophic concepts for himself, or to form what, for lack of a better phrase, I might call the wise and tragic sense of life.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (18961940)
“But that beginning was wiped out in fear
The day I swung suspended with the grapes,
And was come after like Eurydice
And brought down safely from the upper regions;
And the life I live nows an extra life
I can waste as I please on whom I please.”
—Robert Frost (18741963)
“The Supreme Court would have pleased me more if they had concerned themselves about enforcing the compulsory education provisions for Negroes in the South as is done for white children. The next ten years would be better spent in appointing truant officers and looking after conditions in the homes from which the children come. Use to the limit what we already have.”
—Zora Neale Hurston (18911960)
“You say that you do not succeed much. Does it concern you enough that you do not? Do you work hard enough at it? Do you get the benefit of discipline out of it? If so persevere. Is it a more serious thing than to walk a thousand miles in a thousand successive hours? Do you get any corns by it? Do you ever think of hanging yourself on account of failure?”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)