“Wherever the appearance of a conventional aristocracy exists in America, it must arise from wealth, as it cannot from birth. An aristocracy of mere wealth is vulgar everywhere. In a republic, it is vulgar in the extreme.”
--- Harriet Martineau
I believe I heard that quote on No Such Thing as a Fish. I had to look Martineau up:
Harriet Martineau was a British social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist. Martineau wrote many books and a multitude of essays from a sociological, holistic, religious, domestic, and perhaps most controversially, feminine perspective... She earned enough to be supported entirely by her writing, a rare feat for a woman in the Victorian era.
In 1834, after completing the economic series, Harriet Martineau paid a long visit to the United States. During this time, she visited with James Madison, the former US president, at his home at Montpelier. She also met numerous abolitionists in Boston and studied the emerging girls' schools established for their education. Her support of abolitionism, then widely unpopular across the U.S., caused controversy, which her publication, soon after her return, of Society in America (1837) and How to Observe Morals and Manners (1838), only added to. The two books are considered significant contributions to the then-emerging field of sociology.