The Luddites: Fighting the Advance of Technology in 19th Century Britain
Presenter: Jackie Curtiss, Tellico Village’s Favorite Historian
Course Location, Time, Date: Chota D (Rec Center), 9:30 am – 11:30, Friday May 6
Today when we use the term “Luddite,” we are referring to someone who prefers to keep accounts with pencil and paper instead of QuickBooks, or who trusts a 1950s black rotary phone over the latest model iPhone. But in the early 1800s in England, the Luddites were a group of British workmen whose livelihoods were threatened by the advent in factories of new-fangled industrial equipment. To save their jobs, they formed a conspiracy and became machine-breakers who sought to fight change by wreaking havoc, sneaking around factories at night, and spying on factory owners. It doesn’t seem like anything the greatest empire on earth couldn’t handle, but the British authorities had a range of serious issues to deal with at the time, what with Napoleon stirring things up in France, war with America coming again in 1812, and food prices at home skyrocketing causing an increasingly restive population. However, unbelievably, the British government had more soldiers chasing Luddites than they had in the Iberian Peninsula chasing Napoleon’s troops! As if all that were not serious enough, King George III (whose forces had been defeated in the Revolutionary War) was growing unstable mentally.
This was a fascinating time in British history. Jackie will focus on everything from the eccentricities of the great poet Lord Byron to the assassination of the prime minister Spencer Perceval while she weaves a tale of the desperate men who tried – memorably but unsuccessfully – to keep technology at bay.
Presenter: The redoubtable Jackie Curtiss, Tellico Village’s favorite historian, taught junior college and dual credit history in Houston for the final 15 years of her career, although a lifelong love of history began when she was a child. She graduated from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and earned her Masters at Houston Baptist University. She loves to get people interested in stories from the past; those who have been to her classes will attest you will be glad you came.
Class Fee: $5. Prepay Lisa at the Welcome Center (Checks to TVL – POA)
Register: (Limit 35)