In spite of their reputation for producing excellent cloth, local manufacturers in the late 1820’s were finding it difficult to compete with imported merchandise, which could be sold cheaply due to low labor costs abroad. Another economic factor was the engine-loom, a recent development in weaving. It was a device on which four or five ribbons could be woven at once. Engine-loom operators received twice the normal wage for producing four times as much as hand-loom operators. Thus, the value of labor was greatly reduced while the stock-pile of surplus merchandise grew steadily higher.
Manufacturers attempted to recover their losses by subjecting their employees to a series of wage reductions. Economic hardship among the weavers reached a crisis during the early months of 1829, when journeyman weavers petitioned Parliament for control of imported goods.