The Weaver's Revolt, Silesia 1844


Gain a perspective on the Centennial by reading about the preceding history: for example, the background of some of the German weavers who entered the Lawrence worsted industry (starting in the 1850s).

The Weavers' Revolt, Silesia 1844

In June 1844 disturbances and riots occurred in the Prussian province of Silesia, a major center of    textile manufacturing.  Crowds of weavers attacked homes and warehouses, destroyed machinery, and demanded money from local merchants.  The army was called to restore order.  Shots were fired into the crowd, killing 11 people. The leaders of the disturbances were arrested, flogged, and imprisoned. The uprising was a result of severe social and economic distress in the region.  Due to competition from overseas markets, the Silesian textile industry was in decline. This threatened to force the income of the weavers to below subsistence levels. The Silesian weavers' revolt was a traditional response to poverty and hunger. However, some of the weavers' words and actions seemed to indicate a changing understanding of their position in society.  The event has gained enormous significance in the history of the labor movement.

And get a powerful close-up of the drama by reading Gerhart Hauptmann's play, The Weavers, published in English in 1892:


Jurg K Siegenthaler