The study of anarchism as a philosophical, political, and social movement has burgeoned both in the academy and in the global activist community in recent years. Taking advantage of this boom in anarchist scholarship, Nathan J. Jun and Shane Wahl have compiled twenty-six cutting-edge essays on this timely topic in New Perspectives on Anarchism.
The paper is an attempt to set the social and historical background against which the Royal Institution was founded, and to trace the events in its very early history. The founder of the Institution was Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, that soldier of fortune who took service with the Elector Palatine of Bavaria, and it was in the course of his duties in Munich that his interest in the practical problems of philanthropy was aroused.In London, in the concluding years of the (...) eighteenth century, he was drawn into the group of philanthropists and reformers among whom William Wilberforce was the leading figure, and Sir Thomas Bernard, Treasurer of the Foundling Hospital, one of the most active members. The focus of their activities was the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor, and to this Society Rumford submitted his proposals for a new scientific institution in London, designed to improve the lot of the poor and the working classes by the application of science to useful purposes.It was decided to make an appeal for funds, Rumford's proposals were circulated, and the Count succeeded in interesting the President of the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks, who took the Chair at the early meetings and allowed them to be held at his house, 32 Soho Square. At a meeting held there on 7 March 1799, the new institution was formed by resolution of the subscribers of 50 guineas each, who became the first Proprietors of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, as it was afterwards named in its Royal Charter. (shrink)
The paper covers a period of little more than two years in the early history of the Royal Institution, but it is the period in which the house in Albemarle Street was purchased and Count Rumford devoted all his energies to establishing in it the Institution he had conceived. The house was enlarged and adapted to its new purpose; at first a temporary and later the well-known lecture theatre were built. The first Resident Professor and lecturer in the new theatre (...) was Thomas Garnett, whose brief and unhappy connection with the Royal Institution is recorded. (shrink)