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Luddites and the Luddite Rebellion of 1811-1813

Page history last edited by Mark Haggan 3 months, 1 week ago Saved with comment

Stained glass window representing the Luddite attack on Westhoughton Mill

 

Stained glass window representing the Luddite attack on Westhoughton Mill

 

Topics on the Page

 
Who Were the Luddites?

 

Causes of the Luddite Rebellion

 

Events of the Rebellion

 

Primary Sources

 

Automation and Robots in 21st Century Economies

 

 

 

 

 

CBS Sunday Morning Almanac: The Luddites

                        

 

 

Overall Summary

 

The Luddites were a group/labor movement of British weavers and textile workers who objected to the increased use of mechanized looms and knitting frames in textile factories.

The Luddites were named after a mythical character named Ned Ludd who in 1779 was an apprentice that was rumored to have destroyed a textile apparatus.

 

The main causes of the rebellion was an economic downturn due to the Napoleonic Wars and that merchants cut costs by employing lower-paid, untrained workers to operate machines as the textile industry moved out of individual homes and into mills where hours were longer and conditions more dangerous. The beginning of the rebellion and the first major instance of machine breaking took place in Nottingham in November of 1811. As the movement grew their message became inconsistent and differed from region to region, and involved more violence.

 

In addition to smashing machines, Luddites set mills ablaze and exchanged gunfire with guards and authorities dispatched to protect factories. The English government dispatched 14,000 soldiers to protect its factories and reduce the violence. They also made the destruction of machines punishable by death. 2 dozen Luddites were sentenced to death, and many more were deported to Australia. 

 

 

Who are the Luddites?

  •  In modern times people who are called Luddites are usually people who dislike the use of new technology, but this term dates back to the early 19th century.

 

 

  • The Luddites were a group/labor movement of British weavers and textile workers who objected to the increased use of mechanized looms and knitting frames in textile factories. 

 

  • Many of the people who joined were artisans or craftsmen that trained many years to master their craft and felt that the use of the machines cheapened their work and jeopardized their livelihood. 

 

  • The Luddites were named after a mythical character named Ned Ludd who in 1779 was an apprentice that was rumored to have destroyed a textile apparatus. 

 

  • Despite no evidence that he actually existed, protestors claimed to be following orders from “General Ludd,” and they even issued manifestoes and threatening letters under his name.

 

 

Causes of the Luddite Rebellion

 

  • The decade old Napoleonic Wars had led to food shortages and halted trade.

 

  • There was a change in men's fashion which led men to wear trousers instead of stockings. This crippled England's hosiery industry.

 

  • The Industrial Revolution and the technology it brought with it allowed workers to produce knitted goods 100 times faster than by hand.

 

  • The economic downturn caused merchants to cut costs by employing lower-paid, untrained workers to operate machines as the textile industry moved out of individual homes and into mills where hours were longer and conditions more dangerous. 

 

  • The textiles being produced were inferior to hand made ones.

 

  • English textile workers consistently found their efforts to negotiate for pensions, minimum wages and standard working conditions rebuffed. Decided to participate in "collective bargaining by riot". 

 

The Events of the Luddite Rebellion 

 

  • The first major instance of machine breaking took place in Nottingham in November of 1811.

 

  • From Nottingham, the Luddite revolt spread during 1812 to the wool industry of Yorkshire and the cotton mills of Lancashire.

 

  • As the movement grew their message became inconsistent and differed from region to region, and involved more violence.

 

  • In addition to smashing machines, Luddites set mills ablaze and exchanged gunfire with guards and authorities dispatched to protect factories. 

 

  • Four Luddites were shot dead in April 1812 after breaking down the doors of the Rawfolds Mill outside Huddersfield. The laborers then took revenge weeks later by ordering the factory owner while he was riding his own horse. 

 

  • The English government dispatched 14,000 soldiers to protect its factories and reduce the violence. They also made the destruction of machines punishable by death. 

 

  • 2 dozen Luddites were sentenced to death, and many more were deported to Australia. 

 

       

 

To Read More:

 
Who Were the Luddites and What Did They Want, UK National Archives

 

 Luddites: Episode 274 from Engines of Our Ingenuity


What the Luddites Really Fought Against--Technology Wasn't Really the Enemy, Smithsonian, March 2011

 

The Original Luddites Raged Against the Machine of the Industrial Revolution, History Channel

 

Who were the Luddites?, History Channel

 

Rage Against the Machine, University of Cambridge

 

Primary Sources

Luddite Riots of 1812

 

The Luddites and Charlotte Bronte e-Text: Primary Sources

    • This collection includes a written Luddite threat against a textile mill owner, a Luddite oath, letters to unemployed knitters, and an excerpt from Charlotte Bronte's 1849 novel, Shirley, a Tale


The Frame Breaking Act of 1812

 

Written Account of Machine Breaking at Linthwaite, Yorkshire, March 1812 (UK National Archives)

 

Reward Poster for the arrest and conviction of 3 men who destroyed three knitting machines in January of 1812 (UK National Archives)

 

A Handbill entitled "Fellow Weavers" printed in March of 1812 (UK National Archives)

 

 

Automation and Robots in 21st Century Economies

 

Robot Worker at Auto Manufacturing Plant
Robot Worker at Auto Manufacturing Plant


The world is entering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution ”characterized by unprecedented “developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and biotechnology.” (World Economic Forum)

 

Why Luddites are Fashionable Again, JSTOR Daily

When Robots Take All of Our Jobs, Remember the Luddites, Smithsonian, January 2017

 

Two-Thirds of the Jobs in this City Could Be Automated by 2035, MarketWatch (July 5, 2017)

 

  • The city is Las Vegas
    • 55 percent of jobs in metropolitan areas face the same scenario

 

German Stamp, 1987
German Stamp, 1987

 


A Robot May Be Training To Do Your Job. Don't Panic. The New York Times (September 10, 2016)


Yes, the Robots Will Steal Our Jobs. And That's Fine. The Washington Post (February 17, 2016)

Automation is a Job Engine, New Research Says

  • Study of computer automation in 317 occupations from 1980 to 2013
  • Employment grows significantly faster in occupations that use computers more



Where Machines Could Replace Humans--And Where They Can't (Yet)


Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation

  • 45% of work activities could be automated using existing technology
    • 60% of all occupations could have 30% of their activities automated
      • Only 5% of all occupations could be entirely automated using existing technology

 

The Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford (Basic Books, 2016)

 

10 Jobs Where Robots Really Are Replacing Humans, Disruption (May 2017)

 

 

 

What is a Robot? PBS Learning Media

 

Robots:  Is Your Job at Risk?  CNN Money (September 15, 2017)

 

Are You a Luddite? BBC News asks the question.

 

Click Here to find out some famous Luddites.

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