Early British Gun Industry

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JBrandon

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Reading long interesting threads on Bakers and other Brit rifles in 18th century I figured some others might be interested in this book.
Here's a massive historical study of the British gun industry in those years, which is relevant background if you're interested in the military guns, US War of Independence, French and Indian war, fur trade era - anything from 1600s to early 1800s. It's a heavy slog in places but well-written. My review below.
Satia, Priya
2018 Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution. Penguin Press, New York.

Massive historical study. Main argument is that the Industrial Revolution in Britain is usually characterized as involving steam, iron, and ‘commercial’ products like cloth, but actually, guns were one of the most important elements. Framed partly by story of Samuel Galton Jr, a Quaker involved in gun making and other businesses. Before 1790s, this was considered unremarkable, but in 1795 Quakers moved to expel him. She attributes this to social and economic changes relating to the gun industry. His defense was that all economy and manufacture in Britain served war, and she shows that this is largely true. Britain was engaged in pretty much constant war from 1688 to 1815, lengthy, multi-national conflicts, as well as wars of conquest and trade in colonies. At first gun production was artisanal cottage industry, and gunmakers also made all sorts of other metal goods. The government encouraged this, fearing too much power in the hands of industry, but increasingly centralized munition production or at least their control. Gunmakers were at all levels, from small artisans making parts, to shops ‘setting up’ these parts into finished guns, to entrepreneurs like Galton family who owned shops, contracted with all sorts of others, and typically were also involved in mining and smelting and trade in metals, steam power and machines, invested their profits and owned shares in and traded with merchants of all sorts, especially the slave trade, later Hudson Bay Co and others, and helped develop banking industry.

Meanwhile, the country was ‘militarized’ to defend against especially France, but also revolts in Ireland, Scotland, and rioting populace. Usually this was militia, and the government had conflicting interests in arming people (espec militias) and controlling access to arms in fear of unrest or revolution. Guns became common, and she sees a change in patterns of social violence in the later 1700s from the use of knives, clubs, etc to guns, especially to protect property by the gov’t but also private individuals. Gun seen as ‘less personal’ and because they were uncertain, more feared when used as a threat than the up-close personal weapons of earlier generations. [I think she exaggerates their ineffiency and inaccuracy in this interpretation.]

Among other things, she documents the literally millions of guns that were made and exported, especially as part of the slave trade in Africa and the fur trade and relations with Indians in N. America, and similarly on the Indian subcontinent. In these places they served as currency and necessary parts of political relations and trade exchanges. Not to mention the production and consumption of hundreds of thousands of guns by the military.
 

smoothshooter

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Reading long interesting threads on Bakers and other Brit rifles in 18th century I figured some others might be interested in this book.
Here's a massive historical study of the British gun industry in those years, which is relevant background if you're interested in the military guns, US War of Independence, French and Indian war, fur trade era - anything from 1600s to early 1800s. It's a heavy slog in places but well-written. My review below.
Satia, Priya
2018 Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution. Penguin Press, New York.

Massive historical study. Main argument is that the Industrial Revolution in Britain is usually characterized as involving steam, iron, and ‘commercial’ products like cloth, but actually, guns were one of the most important elements. Framed partly by story of Samuel Galton Jr, a Quaker involved in gun making and other businesses. Before 1790s, this was considered unremarkable, but in 1795 Quakers moved to expel him. She attributes this to social and economic changes relating to the gun industry. His defense was that all economy and manufacture in Britain served war, and she shows that this is largely true. Britain was engaged in pretty much constant war from 1688 to 1815, lengthy, multi-national conflicts, as well as wars of conquest and trade in colonies. At first gun production was artisanal cottage industry, and gunmakers also made all sorts of other metal goods. The government encouraged this, fearing too much power in the hands of industry, but increasingly centralized munition production or at least their control. Gunmakers were at all levels, from small artisans making parts, to shops ‘setting up’ these parts into finished guns, to entrepreneurs like Galton family who owned shops, contracted with all sorts of others, and typically were also involved in mining and smelting and trade in metals, steam power and machines, invested their profits and owned shares in and traded with merchants of all sorts, especially the slave trade, later Hudson Bay Co and others, and helped develop banking industry.

Meanwhile, the country was ‘militarized’ to defend against especially France, but also revolts in Ireland, Scotland, and rioting populace. Usually this was militia, and the government had conflicting interests in arming people (espec militias) and controlling access to arms in fear of unrest or revolution. Guns became common, and she sees a change in patterns of social violence in the later 1700s from the use of knives, clubs, etc to guns, especially to protect property by the gov’t but also private individuals. Gun seen as ‘less personal’ and because they were uncertain, more feared when used as a threat than the up-close personal weapons of earlier generations. [I think she exaggerates their ineffiency and inaccuracy in this interpretation.]

Among other things, she documents the literally millions of guns that were made and exported, especially as part of the slave trade in Africa and the fur trade and relations with Indians in N. America, and similarly on the Indian subcontinent. In these places they served as currency and necessary parts of political relations and trade exchanges. Not to mention the production and consumption of hundreds of thousands of guns by the military.

I saw her doing a video lecture somewhere on this subject a few months ago.
 
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