British Taste in Federal Charleston

The Revolutionary War signaled the end of British cultural domination in some regions. Yet some Americans continued to regard British goods as the ultimate symbols of a refined lifestyle. Such was the case in Charleston. Writing about the 1790s, South Carolina governor John Drayton observed in 1802 that “Charlestonians sought in every possible way to emulate the life of London society. They were too much enamored of British customs, manners and education to imagine that elsewhere anything of advantage could be obtained.”

Gentry householders in post-Revolutionary Charleston regarded the high cost of importing sophisticated London furniture as no object. Those who were unable or unwilling to order furniture from London still had access to British-style cabinet wares of a more restrained nature through the many artisans who arrived in the decades after the war and proudly announced their British training.