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Whitney family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Whitney family
CountryUnited States
Place of originEngland
FounderJohn Whitney
Connected familiesPaget family
Vanderbilt family
Estate(s)The Elms
Greenwood Plantation

The Whitney family is a formerly prominent American family descended from non-Norman English immigrant John Whitney (1592–1673), who left London in 1635 and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. The historic family mansion in Watertown, known as The Elms, was built for the Whitneys in 1710.[1] The Whitneys today continue to be involved in philanthropic efforts due to the wealth accumulated by past generations. They are also members of the Episcopal Church.[2]

Until the mid-20th century, successive generations of the Whitney family had a significant impact on American history. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 enabled cotton seeds to be removed 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, with Yale law professor Paul Finkleman writing that "slaves were a profitable investment before the cotton gin and an even more profitable investment after its invention".[4] In 1844, Asa Whitney launched a campaign for a railway linking the country's west to the east that ultimately resulted in the first transcontinental railroad. Upon taking office as U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 1885, William Collins Whitney oversaw the American fleet's widespread adoption of steel ships, an event essential to the United States becoming a leading world power.

During the 20th century, family members continued to exercise massive influence over the country's economy through conglomerates such as Pan Am, J.H. Whitney & Company, and Freeport-McMoran. Beginning with William Collins Whitney, members of the Whitney family would also become major figures for more than a century in the breeding and racing of Thoroughbred horses.[5][6]

Prominent descendants of John Whitney[edit]

Eli Whitney Jr. (1765–1825)

By marriage:

Family network[edit]


The following is a list of figures closely aligned or subordinate to the Whitney family.


The following is a list of companies in which the Whitney family have held a controlling or otherwise substantial interest.

Philanthropy and non-profit organizations[edit]

Buildings, estates and 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, Vanderbilt, Whitney. Episcopalian 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. ^ 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. Lulu.com. 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. ^ Ingham 1983, p. 1615.
  18. ^ "Glen Cove's multi-talented Clarissa Watson dies in France". Herald Community Newspapers. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  19. ^ Chin, Jessica (2017-07-03). "Greentree Foundation maintains community roots with grants - The Island Now". The Island Now. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  20. ^ "JOHN HAY WHITNEY DIES AT 77; PUBLISHER LED IN MANY FIELDS". The New York Times. 9 February 1982. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  21. ^ Nemy, Enid (2019-07-19). "Marylou Whitney, Social Queen of the Racing World, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
  22. ^ Dahler 2020, p. 110.
  23. ^ "The Whitney Museum of American Art". The Art Story.org. Retrieved December 27, 2014.


External links[edit]