At first, armless rocking chairs were used by women for nursing babies, sewing, or knitting. Adding arms and moving the chair from the bedroom to the parlor expanded their utility for the aged or infirm.
Rocking chairs were next moved to the front porch where men were inclined to refresh and relax. Nineteenth-century American social culture included sitting on the front porch, which faced the street (a distinctive feature of American house design) to enjoy the view and greet neighbors. Rocking chairs were comfortable, reasonably inexpensive and readily available. Utilized by Presidents, celebrities, generals, ministers, and middle-class working men and women: a most democratic chair.
Foreigners did find Americans’ use of rocking chairs amusing since European cultural norms considered rocking back and forth undignified. By the 1820’s most USA homes had at least one rocker.