The 18th century was a time of change and intellectuals and gentlemen would organise talks and host clubs where like-minded people could come together to discuss what they called “natural philosophy.” This included anything from manufacturing and mining to education and transportation. The Lunar Society was an example.
Lunatic or Genius?
This group, which must be one of the most influential societies that ever existed was started in Birmingham in the UK in 1785 by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of the famous Charles Darwin), Matthew Boulton (a manufacturer of buckles and an entrepreneur) and William Small (a doctor who taught mathematics to the future US President Thomas Jefferson). The society continued until 1813.