Whitney family

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Coat of Arms of Eli Whitney.svg
CountryUnited States
Place of originLondon, England
Founded1624 (first child in England)
1635 (first child in North America)
FounderJohn Whitney
Connected familiesPaget family
Vanderbilt family
Estate(s)The Elms
Watertown, Massachusetts

The Whitney family is an American family founded by John Whitney (1592–1673) who immigrated from London, England to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635. The historic family mansion in Watertown, known as The Elms, was built for the Whitneys in 1710.[1] Today, the Whitneys occupy a distinguished position in American society as a result of their entrepreneurship, wealth, and philanthropy. They are also members of the Episcopal Church.[2]

Throughout the United States' existence, successive generations of the Whitney family have had a significant impact on its history. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 enabled slaves to pick cotton 50 times faster, a breakthrough which led the country to become home to 75% of the world's cotton supply. [3] This caused the demand for slaves to increase rapidly, “Slaves were a profitable investment before the cotton gin and an even more profitable investment after its invention” law professor Paul Finkleman argued in the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities. [4] Beginning in 1844, Asa Whitney launched a campaign for a railway linking the American West to the East Coast that ultimately resulted in the first American transcontinental railroad. Upon taking office as U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 1885, William Collins Whitney oversaw the fleet's widespread adoption of steel ships. During the 20th century, family members continued to exercise massive influence over the U.S. economy through nationwide conglomerates such as Pan Am, J.H. Whitney & Company and Freeport-McMoran.

Beginning with William Collins Whitney, members of the Whitney family would become major figures for more than a century in the breeding and racing of Thoroughbred horses.[5][6]

Prominent descendants of John Whitney[edit]

By marriage:

Family Network[edit]



Philanthropy & non-profit organizations[edit]

Buildings, estates & historic sites[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cutter 1908, pp. 1400–1401.
  2. ^ W. Williams 2016, p. 176:The names of fashionable families who were already Episcopalian, like the Morgans, or those, like the Fricks, who now became so, goes on interminably: Aldrich, Astor, Biddle, Booth, Brown, Du Pont, Firestone, Ford, Gardner, Mellon, Morgan, Procter, the Vanderbilt, Whitney. Episcopalians branches of the Baptist Rockefellers and Jewish Guggenheims even appeared on these family trees.
  3. ^ "Eli". US National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  4. ^ "The cotton gin: A game-changing social and economic invention". National Constitution Centre. March 14, 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Racing Proud of Whitney Heritage: Three Generations of Family Prominent on American Scene; Among Founders of Jockey Club, Campaigned Abroad; Owned Two Derby Winners". Daily Racing Form at University of Kentucky Archives. 1956-05-05. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  6. ^ "Marylou Whitney Stables LLC". Equibase.com. 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  7. ^ a b Hendrick 1920, p. 138.
  8. ^ a b c Burnley 1901, p. 226.
  9. ^ a b Ingham 1983, pp. 1614–1615.
  10. ^ "WILLIAM C. WHITNEY PASSES AWAY" (PDF). New York Times. 1904-02-03. p. 2. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  11. ^ Ingham 1983, pp. 1612–1614.
  12. ^ NYT 1904, p. 2.
  13. ^ Ingham 1983, p. 1614.
  14. ^ Harrison, Bruce. The Family Forest Descendants of Sir Robert Parke. p. 238. ISBN 9781411686304. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Birth of the Paper Giant | Great Northern Paper". Greatnorthernpaperhistory.com. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  16. ^ "Mr. Barney's Career. Prominent All His Life in Finance, Art, and Realty Operations", The New York Times, November 15, 1907.
  17. ^ "Payne Whitney Left $178,893,655 Estate Record For America". New York Times. 1928-11-23. pp. 1 & 12. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
  18. ^ Ingham 1983, p. 1615.
  19. ^ "Glen Cove's multi-talented Clarissa Watson dies in France". Herald Community Newspapers. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  20. ^ Chin, Jessica (2017-07-03). "Greentree Foundation maintains community roots with grants - The Island Now". The Island Now. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  21. ^ "JOHN HAY WHITNEY DIES AT 77; PUBLISHER LED IN MANY FIELDS". The New York Times. 9 February 1982. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  22. ^ Nemy, Enid (2019-07-19). "Marylou Whitney, Social Queen of the Racing World, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
  23. ^ Dahler 2020, p. 110.
  24. ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (January 10, 1997). "Marylou Whitney: Life at the Gallop". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Whitney Museum of American Art". The Art Story.org. Retrieved December 27, 2014.


External links[edit]