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The Luddites: An Author Guest Post by Eleanor Kuhns | Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns | Break Through Promotions Presents History Mystery

Devil's Cold Dish  (Will Rees Mysteries, #5) by Eleanor Kuhns is on virtual book tour with Break Through Promotions and stops at Read...

Devil's Cold Dish (Will Rees Mysteries, #5) by Eleanor Kuhns is on virtual book tour with Break Through Promotions and stops at Readeropolis with an author guest post. Have you read any of the other books in the historical mystery series?

Let's get something started! I am giving away my advance readers' edition copy of book one from the Will Rees Mysteries series, A Simple Murder. Enter for a chance to win here.

Author Guest Post: The Luddites

Calling someone a Luddite now is an accusation of being anti-technology and anti-progress. The name comes from a group of protesters, weavers and other textile workers, in the 19th century who blackened their faces and broke into factories to destroy the new weaving and spinning machinery. They named themselves Luddites,  after King Ludd, the fictional leader.

Their struggles resonate with me, first because Will Rees, my primary protagonist and detective, is a weaver in the late 18th century. He will lose his profession as the textile factories take over. (The first textile mill was built in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1814.) And second, because the fears of the textile workers – that the machinery would replace them – is being replicated today in a score of professions. The men who called themselves Luddites were not anti-machinery. They were fighting to maintain their livelihoods.

These textile workers had reason to worry. Prior to the invention of the weaving machines, weaving was a skilled occupation. Weavers underwent an apprenticeship of seven years before they could call themselves weavers and set up shop. With the transition to the machines, the time and energy invested in learning the skills for this profession was wasted. And unnecessary. The weaving machines were more efficient and they allowed for less skilled, and thus lower paid, workers.

Although the Luddites are remembered for the destruction of the machinery, they were not protesting the new equipment. Instead, they opposed the use of the machinery to sidestep labor practices that were standard at that time. As the men lost their jobs, the factory owners, to maximize their profits, employed women and children who were paid much less. Children as young as six worked 14 hours a day in the factories.

The situation was slightly different in the United States. The population was smaller, for one thing, so there was not the same labor pool. To solve the problem Lowell hired young women, who became known as mill girls, between the ages of 15 and 35. He of course paid them less than men. (To his credit, he chose not to employ children.)

In Great Britain the Government sided with the factory owners.  Machine breaking was made a capital crime. The Luddites clashed several times with British soldiers and groups of men, some part of the protest, some not, were swept up. The harsh sentences - execution and penal transportation – that were levied on those men found guilty of being Luddites quickly destroyed the movement. We are seeing similar dislocation today.

  1. For more information:  Conniff, Richard. "What the Luddites Really Fought Against".


About The Author

Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel. A lifelong librarian, she received her Masters from Columbia University and is currently the Assistant Director of the Goshen Public Library in Orange County New York.

EKuhns credit to Rana Faure

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Twitter: #EleanorKuhns

1 comment

Get carried away with love!