George Gilder: descendant of New England Puritans?

RE: goofy post by Kevin MacDonald.

I'll give the conclusion in advance: Gilder appears to have as much Southern ancestry as New England ancestry, and most of his ancestors hailed from the Mid-Atlantic states. Here are his great-grandparents:

8. Richard Watson Gilder (b. 1844, New Jersey): Son of a Methodist clergyman. New Jersey and Delaware ancestry. Talks about his ancestors (including one with "Huguenot blood") here, failing to mention any New England Puritans.

9. Sarah Helena de Kay (b. 1846, New York): New York ancestry (including Dutch and apparently Scotch-Irish).

10. Louis Comfort Tiffany (b. 1848, New York): Finally someone of New England ancestry. But he lived in New York and was, I believe, an Episcopalian.

11. Louise Wakeman Knox (b. 1851, New Jersey): Daughter of a Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed clergyman; of apparent Scotch-Irish ancestry.

12. Reese Fell Alsop (b. 1837, Indiana): Episcopalian clergyman. Pennsylvania ancestry.

13. Mary Lee Spring (b. 1848, Pennsylvania): Father born in New York. Irish and Scotch-Irish Pennsylvania ancestry on mother's side.

14. Robert Williams Chapin (b. 1855, Massachusetts): Ancestry appears to be half New England, half Southern.

15. Adele Le Bourgeois (b. 1862, Louisiana): French name. Grew up on family's plantation.

I was unable to identify any Congregationalist or Unitarian among Gilder's recent ancestors. Gilder is himself an Episcopalian, and he founded the Discovery Institute with his Papist college roommate, who seems to have similar views on Israel. I find it rather hard to believe that internalized guilt passed down from the 1.5/8 of his ancestors who were of New England Puritan stock explains Gilder's philosemitism.

People with more New England ancestry than Gilder: Henry Adams, Brooks Adams, Henry Cabot Lodge, Charles Davenport, A. Lawrence Lowell, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, Carleton Putnam, etc.


coldequation said...

I don't see how this is relevant. MacDonald never actually said that Gilder was physically descended from Puritans. You're more influenced by your peers, the media, and the outside culture than by your parents, so if New England Puritanism is an important strain in our culture it will have influenced people who do not have Mayflower ancestors. This country is, or was, a melting pot.

Having said that, I don't believe that Puritans invented guilt.

n/a said...

See the final block quote: "But the high-minded descendants of the Puritans [like George Gilder] won’t be around to witness it."

Almost everyone named at the bottom of my post would have had as great or greater exposure to New England culture, and it failed to turn them into raving philosemites. Besides, the story clearly indicates what Gilder picked up from his "WASP" peers: casual antisemitism, rather than the reverse:

Echoing sentiments I had heard both at home and at school,” Gilder recalls, “I responded, ‘Exeter’s fine, except that there are too many New York Jews.’” (

If the story illustrates a flaw in American Protestant culture, it's an overemphasis (given the presence in America of competitors who don't reciprocate) on politeness/civility; but this has nothing specifically to do with "Puritan guilt", nor does it justify statements like "Fundamentally, we have to stamp out Puritanism among Whites". (Are you fucking serious, Kevin? In 2010, Puritanism is what needs "stamping out" in America?)

I lean toward those who believe Gilder is pursuing worldly gain rather than attempting to atone for insulting a Jewess 60 years ago.

Israeli prowess in technology is the subject that started George Gilder on the path to writing The Israel Test, (

David Medved and The Israel Test
By Bruce Chapman
Friendships that suddenly arise late in a man’s life; what an unexpected blessing for all concerned! Such were the friendships that David Medved developed with George Gilder, me and several of the rest of us at Discovery Institute in recent years. A physicist, an inventor, a businessman, he was an early signer of the list of scientists who Dissent from Darwin, and that is how his name first came up here. But then we started learning about so many other facets of David’s remarkable personality and career. A resident of Israel, [. . .] David will also be recalled on the pages of George Gilder’s new book, The Israel Test, that appears later this spring. David truly helped inspire and foster it by his devoted sponsorship of George in Israel, by his descriptions of his life in science, technology and business, and especially by the example of his own aliyah

And here's another theory (reflecting Jewish paranoia, but funny considering the last sentence above):

Back to the publicity material, we learn that what’s so awesome about Israel is that it “concentrates the genius of the Jews in one place.” Which at least to my eye makes it sound a bit as if Gilder likes Israel in part because he wishes American Jews would leave him alone and go live there instead. (

RS said...

You name eight or so racialist New Englanders, out of the two zillion people in that population. These data don't suffice to reject the hypothesis that New England has some excess, perhaps only a modest excess, of ethnomasochsim. Though I admit that Madison Grant's achievements stand out very strongly.

I'm not saying the hypothesis is true, but it does make some sense a priori. Ultra-protestant nonconformists were probably high in psychological Openness, which is a major psychological basis of today's ethnomasochism. Then, a posteriori, you have your New England concentration of abolitionism. I admit there is a lot more history I don't know more than casually.

I'm not saying Moldbug has it all straight about the relative import of puritans vs jews, for heaven's sake. But I suspect the truth is somewhere between the Moldbug pole and the You pole -- not necessarily halfway between.

Anonymous said...

Gilder doen't say he is a member of the United Church of Christ, or did I miss that?

The United Church of Christ, formerly called the Congreational church, is the direct descendent of the New England Puritans. Not the Episcopal Church.

The United Church of Christ is very universalist in outlook, almost unitarian, matter of fact the Unitarians are split from it.

Anonymous said...

RS (= Rob S. here and here), what is your ethnic and religious background?

RS said...

I'm neutral on christianity, but not a christian. I was born to a tepid mainline protestant and a tepid catholic, and went to a protestant church roughly 100 times as a kid. I'm half north celtic and half viking.

I do admire the Roman and orthodox churches more, but it's not something I think about a lot. It's a preference in which I am influenced by cultural heros like Mencken. I don't have an agenda against protestantism, or favor mass southern european immigration into historically nordic areas. If some (any) large christian group were to become significantly aligned with white preservation, I would probably join (as a covert agnostic, but one who certainly hopes there is a Divinity). Like R. Hoste I'd readily conform to almost any non-bloody scheme if it could achieve preservation. Socialism, warrentless wiretaps, prohibition of caffeine, legalization of prostitution, you name it: I may not like it, but I don't see how it really matters next to the question of preserving white civilization. I would only balk at a regime that murders zillions a la the almighty-bloody 20th century.

If that christian alignment actually happened, and the group in question were protestant, I might try to influence it to become a bit more like the Roman church architecturally and artistically, unless I decided it wasn't my place as an agnostic to do that. It's not that I don't appreciate the beauty of New England styles, I just think the pre-Reformation cathedrals are better.

Unlike what I think R. Hoste thinks, I don't see what other factor would synergize with racialism/preservation to spur a mass christian resurgence. Racialism itself seems like the only plausible motor for such a resurgence.

RS said...

> I'm half north celtic and half viking.

In the chthonic sense, I mean, as far as I know. Indigenous celts and scandinavians, not ashkenazim or any other migrants.

Silver said...

I don't think that was a "goofy" post. Substitute a "real Puritan" for George Gilder and the point remains. "Puritanism" may not be the problem in 2010 but if it's a problem that hobbles what otherwise might be influential whites then it should be dealt with -- and you can always walk and chew gum.

I find it hard to believe Gilder was "mortified" by having insulted his tutor; more like panic-stricken (if passing that sort of comment was already looked down on at the time). But you'd think a smart guy like him could think on his feet: "Hey, I said 'too many,' not 'any'; if they were all as sweet as you no one would have a problem.:)" Of course, you're right, the reason he brings it up now is worldly gain -- not because he expects Jews to believe he is or was ever "mortified" but because he reinforces the notion that being critical of Jews in any way -- mildly or severely, playfully or seriously -- is some sort of Ultimate Evil.

n/a said...


"I admit there is a lot more history I don't know more than casually."

This is simple to correct. To take the one concrete example you offer, you can start here:

The slave system aroused little protest until the 18th century, when rationalist thinkers of the Enlightenment criticized it for violating the rights of man, and Quaker and other evangelical religious groups condemned it as un-Christian. Though antislavery sentiments were widespread by the late 18th century, they had little immediate effect on the centers of slavery: the West Indies, South America, and the Southern United States. Pennsylvania passed An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1780. Britain banned the importation of African slaves in its colonies in 1807, and the United States followed in 1808. The British West Indies abolished slavery in 1827 and the French colonies abolished it 15 years later.

In Britain, William Wilberforce took on the cause of abolition in 1787 after the formation of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in which he led the Parliamentary campaign to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire with the Slave Trade Act 1807. He continued to campaign for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which he lived to see in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. [. . .] Slavery was abolished in most of Latin America during the Independence Wars (1810–1822), [. . .] Abolitionism was preceded by the New Laws of the Indies in 1542, in which Emperor Charles V declared free all Native American slaves, abolishing slavery of these races, and declaring them citizens of the Empire with full rights. The move was inspired by writings of the Spanish monk Bartolome de las Casas and the School of Salamanca.


Gilder is an Episcopalian.

Another offshoot of New England Puritans: Mormons.


There's no reason to call it "Puritanism". Cultural Marxism has nothing to do with Puritanism, and even the supposed transcendentalist "indigenous culture of critique" owes plenty to continental European philosophy. Given the baggage associated with the word "Puritan", I can see how some might imagine it useful to associate Puritanism with PCism as a rhetorical gambit. But as history, singling out the Puritans doesn't work. It clarifies nothing.

"if passing that sort of comment was already looked down on at the time"

It was not. See quote from Gilder in my comment above. If Gilder was "mortified" it was over the unintentional lapse of politeness -- not because he suddenly decided the sentiment was wrong or that expressing it was dangerous for him.

Incidentally: "In 2009, the publication of Gilder's book, The Israel Test, created a new surge of demand for his insights on international politics and economics."

George Gilder said...

Hey, folks, I wrote the book because Israel is crucial to the U.S. economy and defense and it is currently threatened by destruction. Isn't that a good enough reason? Although like other authors, I write to make money and influence the world, I probably was impelled to write the Israel Test mostly by my belief--now confirmed by most of the comments on this page-- that most of the world is oblivious to the insights in the book.

George Gilder

n/a said...


If you don't mind my asking, what is your speaking fee?

Would it be unfair to characterize your delivering paid speeches to Zionist groups and Jewish congregations as preaching to the choir? Is that really the best way to spread your heartfelt message to a world oblivious to your insights on this crucial issue?