"The Four Hundred" derives from the following:
25 March 1888, New York Tribune, pg. 11, col. 1:
SECRETS OF BALL-GIVING
A CHAT WITH WARD McALLISTER
HOW HE CAME TO BE A FAMOUS BALL ORGANIZER
- REMINISCENCES OF COTILLON DINNER.
SOCIETY'S LIMITS NARROWING.
"Why, there are only about 400 people in fashionable New-York society. If you go outside that number you strike people who are either not at ease in a ball-room or else make other people not at ease. See the point? Of course there are any number of the most cultivated and highly respectable, even distinguished, people outside of fashionable society. When we give a large ball like the last New Year's ball for eight hundred guests, we go outside of the exclusive fashionable set and invite professional men, doctors, lawyers, editors, artists and the like. But the day when fortunes admitted men to exclusive society has gone by. Twenty or thirty years ago it was otherwise. But now with the rapid growth of riches millionaires are too common to receive much deference; a fortune of a million is only respectable poverty. So we have to draw social boundaries on another basis; old connections, gentle breeding, perfection in all the requisite accomplishments of a gentleman, elegant leisure and an unstained private reputation count for more than newly gotten riches. You would be surprise3d at the number of apparently eligible men this list of requirements strikes out of consideration. The truth is we are not a nation of Chesterfields and Bayards, Sidneys and Raleighs."