The Moral Economy of the 1719-20 Calico Riots

  • Author / Creator
    Harris, Mark C
  • This thesis examines narratives created by middle rank writers during the English Calico riots of 1719-1720 and contrasts these legitimizing notions with those investigated by E. P. Thompson in his discussion of the moral economy of the English crowd. During the Calico riots, women who went abroad in urban areas in East India Company printed Indian calico cotton gowns risked being attacked by angry weavers who blamed cotton imports for the recent precipitant decline in demand for English wool and silk products. Building upon popular notions of female pride and moral corruptibility, including witchcraft imagery, anti-calico propagandists effectively legitimized violence against calico-clad women. Thompson identified legitimizing notions as being essential to the functioning of the moral economy of the English crowd, However, Thompson also argued that moral economy protesters normally avoided violence in order to ensure popular support for their actions. Using popular media from the time including plays, poems, songs, broadsides, newspapers, magazines and pamphlets, this thesis demonstrates that the anti-calico propaganda generated by the wool and silk industries was so effective in vilifying calico-clad women that protesters felt little need to moderate their behaviour to placate the sentiments of the wider public.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of History and Classics
  • Specialization
    • History
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Lemire, Beverly (History)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Muir, James (History & Law)
    • Rogers, Nicholas (History, York University)
    • Langdon, John (History)
    • Caradonna, Jeremy (History)