Guns: The British Imperial State and the Industrial Revolution


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project uses the British gun industry to investigate the relationship between eighteenth-century war and industrial revolution. The hypothesis is that state demand critically shaped industrialism and that contemporaries were alive to that relationship. The project focuses on the Galton firm of Birmingham, the largest gun firm serving the state and private custom, including slave traders. As Quakers, the Galtons wrestled publicly with the ethics of gun-making, illuminating contemporary notions about war and the economy. The trade's ties to other industrial and financial enterprises and the gun's particular role in property crime also suggest deep ties between eighteenth-century war and economy. This project uses cultural and quantitative techniques, from representations of guns in travel accounts to data on government purchases.