WASPishness Ain’t What It Used to Be

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the social and political elite of the British North American colonies and, after they gained their independence, the United States of America was overwhelmingly WASPish—consisting of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. In the twentieth century, the composition of the elite changed enormously. This fact was brought home to me again this morning by a feature in USA Today about the current U.S. Supreme Court justices. They include six Catholics and three Jews. I daresay that a hundred years ago, a court with this religious composition would have been quite unthinkable for most Americans.

Oh, yes, Chief Justice John Roberts would seem to be the only Anglo-Saxon on the court–I’m not sure whether this designation correctly describes his ethnicity.

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