LABOR: Farewell to Loom-Wrecking

A mob of Lancashire weavers rioted in 1791 and burned to the ground a cotton mill newly set up by Edmund Cartwright, inventor of the power loom. Time and again as the Industrial Revolution spread, workmen fearful of losing their livelihood attacked new labor-saving machines with hammers and torches. Even today, some labor unions (e.g., building trades, printers, stagehands, locomotive engineers) combat technological progress with featherbedding practices; their leaders regard automation with a milder and more law-abiding version of the 18th century loom-wrecker's wild fear.

But U.S. labor has come far since...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!