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Angelica Campbell ’s elegant chariot, built about 1797. ID 29.1126.79

Portraits of Daniel and Angelica Campbell painted during the mid-1760s by Thomas McIlworth. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum

August 2004

A Genteel Chariot:
Riding in 18th Century Style

“There is no carriage looks better than a genteel Chariot: and where much room for passengers is not necessary, none is more convenient, for being more light and airy than a coach, it is much to be preferred on that account…”

A Treatise on Carriages, 1796
William Felton, English coachmaker


MORE: A Genteel Chariot: Riding in 18th Century Style

The word chariot was used during the 1700s to describe an elegant but sporty closed carriage seating two people. This chariot was built about 1797 by New York City coachmaker William Ross for Angelica Campbell of Schenectady, New York. Such a vehicle allowed its occupants to ride in style and comfort. The Campbells’ chariot is perhaps the best surviving example of its type.

We like to think of carriages as the equivalent of modern automobiles, but in the late 1700s carriages were much rarer than cars are today. Horses were expensive to maintain, especially for city dwellers. Most people who could afford a carriage had small, open vehicles that they drove themselves. Only the wealthy had closed carriages, in which passengers rode inside protected from the weather, driven by coachmen who sat outside. Coaches held four to six passengers, while chariots held two.

This chariot’s owner, Angelica Bratt Campbell (1733-1812), was the wife of Daniel Campbell (1730-1802), an Irish immigrant who made a fortune in America as an Indian trader and a merchant. He settled in Schenectady, New York, in 1754, and married Angelica in 1760. At the time of the marriage, Daniel was said to be one of the wealthiest men in the colony of New York. This chariot was built during the later years of Angelica’s life, when she was in her 60s. Two hundred years after its creation, we can still marvel at the artful design and painstaking craftsmanship shown in Angelica Campbell’s chariot.

Let’s take a closer look to see some of the things that made these vehicles so striking.



Robert H. Casey
Curator of Transportation


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