glyph 378: W. H. Hutt, essay . history . the Industrial Revolution, England, Britain ... Report of the Sadler Commitee, 1832 ... British politics ... Frederich Engels, Karl Marx, Marxism ... included in F. A. Hayek's Capitalism and the Historians ..... history of freeorder, revisionist


"The Factory System of the Early Nineteenth Century," by W. H. Hutt

toward a better understanding of conditions existing early in the Industrial Revolution

[Written in 1925, this essay was published in "Economica" in 1926 and became more widely known when F.A. Hayek included it in Capitalism and the Historians (1954).]

W. H. Hutt wrote:

... modern works on the early factory system ... A History of Factory Legislation by Hutchins and Harrison and The Town Labourer and Lord Shaftesbury by J.L. and Barbara Hammond. ... these works are practically the standard modern works ...


Perhaps an explanation of the point of view of the authorities just referred to can be found in the weight they attach to the evidence given before what has come to be known as "Sadler's Committee," in 1832. The report of this committee gives us a dreary picture of cruelty, misery, disease, and deformity among the factory children, and this picture is generally accepted as authentic. The Hammonds refer to the report as "a classical document." They continue: "It is one of the main sources of our knowledge of the conditions of factory life at the time. Its pages bring before the reader in the vivid form of dialogue the kind of life that was led by the victims of the new system." Hutchins and Harrison regard it as "one of the most valuable collections of evidence on industrial conditions that we possess."


Even Engels, Karl Marx's comrade-in-chief, describes the [Sadler] Report thus: "Its report was emphatically partisan, composed by strong enemies of the factory system for party ends. ... Sadler permitted himself to be betrayed by his noble enthusiasm into the most distorted and erroneous statements."

The entire essay is republished at
and at:
February 18, 2007; edited/updated December 2, 2018

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