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Title The politics of taste in antebellum Charleston / Maurie D. McInnis.
Imprint Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2005.


 Main Stacks  F279.C45 M38 2005    AVAILABLE
Description ix, 395 p. : ill., maps ; 26 cm.
Bibliog. Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-385) and index.
Subject Social classes -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- History -- 19th century.
Aristocracy (Social class) -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- History -- 19th century.
Plantation owners -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- History -- 19th century.
Material culture -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- History -- 19th century.
Charleston (S.C.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
Charleston (S.C.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
Charleston (S.C.) -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century.
Charleston (S.C.) -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
Contents A bird's-eye view -- A walking tour -- The public landscape of racial control -- Temples for posterity -- Public art and politics -- Ordering the backlot -- The gothic revival -- Life in the yard -- A love of display.
Summary At the close of the American Revolution, Charleston, South Carolina, was the wealthiest city in the new nation, with the highest per-capita wealth among whites and the largest number of enslaved residents. Maurie D. McInnis explores the social, political, and material culture of the city to learn how - and at what human cost - Charleston came to be regarded as one of the most refined cities in antebellum America. While other cities embraced a culture of democracy and egalitarianism, wealthy Charlestonians cherished English notions of aristocracy and refinement, defending slavery as a social good and encouraging the growth of southern nationalism. Members of the city's merchant-planter class held tight to the belief that the clothes they wore, the manners they adopted, and the ways they designed house lots and laid out city streets helped secure their place in social hierarchies of class and race. This pursuit of refinement, McInnis demonstrates, was bound up with their determined efforts to control the city's African American majority. She examines slave dress, mobility, work spaces, and leisure activities to understand how Charleston slaves negotiated their lives among the whites they served. The textures of lives lived in houses, yards, streets, and public spaces come into dramatic focus in this illustrated portrait of antebellum Charleston. McInnis's history of the city combines the aspirations of its would-be nobility, the labors of the African slaves who built and tended the town, and the ambitions of its architects, painters, writers, and civic promoters.