This chapter shows the Americans who, however unthinkingly, took their country's success as warrant for assuming individualism's strengths and virtues misperceived their own past. It attempts to answer the question of how that new nation ended up as it did, in terms of the systemic forces and processes that are the realm of class. The chapter shows how an ascendant US ruling class achieved political and economic dominance at the end of the nineteenth century. It argues that, in comparison to what occurred in other late-developing countries, its rise was exceptional only with regard to the unprecedented amount of violence it used to achieve that dominance. George Marcus focuses on how rich US families since the nineteenth century created legal and organisational means for the aggregation and preservation of their wealth. In the process of their self-fashioning as prudent fiduciaries of their own interests, they succeeded in persuading the public of their abilities as fiduciaries for society at large.