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Swing Riots - 1
Transcript of Swing Riots - 1
• The ‘Swing riots’ were a huge wave of mass machine breaking, arson, protests, riots and extortion carried out by farm labourers and village artisans between the summers of 1830 and 1831.
• They were preceded by the Luddites
• Beginning in Kent the movement spread rapidly over three months to engulf twenty-two counties from the southeast to the southwest of England.
• The disturbances were characterized by self-organised mobile gangs of farm labourers and others, often from different villages, carrying out the brazen destruction of machinery and extortion of the better-off landowners in a local district.
The British Agricultural Revolution
1. Enclosure Acts
2. Church Tithes
3. Horse powered threshing machines
4. Poor harvest of 1828 – 1829 : Unemployment, poverty and food shortage
5. Cheap Irish Labor
6. French Revolution
7. Poor Law Acts
8. Napoleonic wars
Threshing machines were the main target of destruction. 1st one destroyed – 28th, august, 1830.
Swing letters were sent to farmers and manufacturers to remove the machines or increase wages.
Band of man from a village gathered men and traveled around farms, hamlets demanding for higher wages or removal of machines.
Many mills and factories were set on fire. In some the damage caused was above £2000. Many of the peasants demanded for money, beer and food in return for their services.
The leaders of these riots who were called ‘Captains’ were chosen from their community itself.
• Lots of destruction
• Nearly 2000 protesters were brought to trial in 1830–1831
• The government appointed a Special Commission of three judges to try rioters.
• On 15 November 1830 Wellington's government was defeated in a vote in the House of Commons. Two days later, Earl Grey was asked to form a Whig government
• Increase in wages, Reduction in rents.
• Threshing machines declined in numbers
• Introduction of the Reform Act 1832 and the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
• In 1834 the Tolpuddle Martyrs formed a trade union.
The Violent Captain Swing? By Carl Griffin
Policy on the Hoof by Carl Griffin
Captain Swing by E.J. Hobsbawm and George Rude
J. L. And Barbara Hammond’s The Village Laborer
Autumn of 1830: Southern half of England rose up
First threshing machine destroyed - Lower Hardes in Kent on 28 August 1830
Swing letters were sent to various people
machines-took away laborers winter employment
Target : Destruction of threshing machines
Spread from one country to another - Took less than one week : Sussex to Wilshire.
End of dec 1830 : Main rioting complete ; over 2000 men and women rounded up for trial
The protesters used the name "Captain Swing". This was a made-up name designed to spread fear among landowners and avoid the real protest leaders being found out.
T he name "Captain Swing" riots came from the threatening letters which were often signed Swing after people swinging from the gallows, the leaders were known as "The Captain" or "Swing" to try to hide their identity.
The actual name Captain Swing was used to sign letters that were delivered to land and farm owners as a means of protesting against the starvation and poverty that these new grain threshing machines were creating.
So in effect the Captain Swing letters were symbolically a representation of hard-working tenant farmers driven to destitution and despair by social and political change in the early nineteenth century.