The Cause Of Luddism In The Industrial Revolution

1965 Words 8 Pages
Luddism began in early 19th century Britain, at the beginning of the progression into the industrial revolution. During this time, machine production and integration was expanding exponentially to meet the growing demands of capitalism and trade, mainly facilitated by the expansive supply of iron and coal. However, the increased use in machinery brought the replacement of many skilled artisans and textile workers. Concurrently to this increase in structural unemployment, depressed trade due to the French and American wars caused an economic depression, and the additional loss of jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers. Furthermore, the price of grains and food increased due to poor harvests, and the Tory government refused to help as …show more content…
This is, perhaps, the most directly traceable cause of Luddism, as the machinery was the chosen target of the Luddite movement. The undermining of wages and use of unskilled labor due to the introduction of machinery was seen to be “clashing with the existing ‘social contract’ between workers and masters” (Luddites200). The status of the skilled artisans dropped to below those of unskilled workers, and the men saw their trade being taken over by young, uneducated, and inexperienced workers. Furthermore, the quality of the goods produced decreased, as much of the machinery was crude and imprecise. The Luddites saw machine-breaking as the most efficient way to curtail and impoverish the large factories, allowing them to defend their trade and return to their jobs and previous social …show more content…
Moreover, the Luddites generally maintained an ambivalent attitude about machinery itself, as many of the Luddites desired to become frame-owners and rentiers themselves. Machinery was broken chiefly because it was “the kind of manufacture that workmen were anxious to ban, or because it belonged to employers who were allegedly guilty of the practices against which the men protested,” rather than because the Luddites were simply against change. These practices against which the Luddites protested were generally “wage-reductions, truck payments and other devices used by some employers to defraud them of their wages, the employment of unapprenticed workmen inside the trade, and the manufacture of inferior articles” which they saw as bringing their trade into dispute (Thomis, 49). With the goal of alleviating these grievances, the Luddites began by warning the masters to remove frames from their premises. If it was refused, the Luddites smashed the machines in nocturnal raids, generally by using sledgehammers and starting fires. Essentially, the Luddites saw removing machinery as the most efficient way to return to their previous status levels and regain

Related Documents