4. The Dollar Princesses Revamped Britain’s Aristocracy and Economy
The rise of American agriculture and industry proved to be a bust for Britain, which had previously been an industrial powerhouse for the world. Food could be grown, and usually for much cheaper, on the vast prairies and farmlands of rural America, and goods that had once been exclusively made in British factors could be produced en masse in the United States. Rural English families lost their farms, which were usually owned by nobles, and had to move to the cities. These noblemen and women found their fortunes eroding as the British economy slowly crumbled beneath their feet. They needed to be rescued, and fast, or else their free-spending lifestyles would come to an abrupt end.
Enter the dollar princesses. The money in their dowries was enough to revive the fading fortunes of newly-impoverished noblemen. Not only that, but their American tastes frequently meant that they wanted to renovate their centuries-old estates. All told, they injected the present-day equivalent of about $25 billion into the British economy – just through their dowries. That number doesn’t account for the number of jobs that were created to satisfy their tastes, such as the construction workers and architects who were hired to renovate their homes. Still, many wealthy (and unfortunate) British families turned their noses up at them.