First two pages of Knight's An address to the labourers.
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First page of A few observations additional to those addressed to labourers.
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Detail map of London, England, United Kingdom

A: London, England, United Kingdom

Charles Knight Promotes the Advantages of Technology to Agricultural Workers who Destroy Threshing Machines during the Swing Riots

Circa 10/1830
Title page of Knight's An Address to the Labourers on the Subject of Destroying Machinery
Creative Commons LicenseJeremy Norman Collection of Images - Creative Commons
In response to the destruction of threshing machines and other agricultural machinery during the Swing Riots from roughly August 28, 1830 through October of 1830, sometime around October 1830 writer and publisher Charles Knight published an anonymous 8-page pamphlet under the auspices of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. This pamphlet, entitled An Address to the Labourers, on the subject of Destroying Machinery, and dated 1830, is one of the scarcest and least-known of Knight's early writings. I learned about it for the first time when I acquired a copy in 2021 after studying and collecting Knight's publications for around ten years. The pamphlet, which sold for one penny, or less if ordered in quantity, was the first of Knight's public service publications attempting explain the advantages of mechanization specifically to workers who destroyed machinery in the luddite tradition, but also to the much larger population of workers justifiably afraid of losing their livelihood as mechanization disemployed many workers, especially in the textile and agricultural industries.

As far as I know, this was Knight's first published attempt to promote new technology to workers threatened by the new developments, a topic to which he returned many times in his writings, both in respect to mechanization in general and also within the book production industries. Knight's view was shared by most members of the SDUK, for whom Knight began serving as publisher in 1828, resuming his own publishing business in 1829.

My copy is bound with an undated four page supplementary pamphlet, also anonymous, and probably by Charles Knight, entitled A Few Observations Addition to those Addressed to Labourers under the Authority of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. This undated pamphlet is recorded in the Goldsmith's catalogue as number 26426, but seems otherwise unrecorded. It may be even scarcer than Knight's pamphlet dated 1830.

According to William F. Kennedy, "Lord Brougham, Charles Knight, and The Rights of Industry," Economica, New Series, 29, 58-71, "10,000 copies of Knight's pamphlet were sold in a few days, and 120,000 more were sold later." Whether or not this information is accurate, Knight's pamphlet is exceptionally scarce today.

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