Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of August 24th - August 30th,  2001

Strikes and Revolution

Columns Archive


   Aquarius is the sign of the people and social collective;
The US Flag

as individuals, they seek the common good. Themes associated with Aquarius are freedom and brotherhood- liberty and equality. Idealistic and inventive, this sign's strength derives from its originality. If we look 'Aquarius' up in the astrological dictionary, we would find reformer, pioneer, unconventional and scientific. But each sign of the zodiac cuts both ways. This is because we have free will and personal choice. Hence, Aquarian energy is teamwork, but it is also individualistic and can refer to loners. The ethereal mix of this air sign fosters an interest in science, but it takes this highly regulated discipline and peers into the mists of metaphysics as well. They are impersonal, intuitive, cooperative and altruistic, but can also be impetuous, rebellious, eccentric and reclusive. They identify with what is wild and untamed. They put the cosmic back into cosmetics, whether in clothes, jewelry or hairstyle. If an Aquarian can outrage, shock or stimulate you, great! They've done their job, and your surprise validates their existence.

USAEagle and Athena Owl

   One obvious manifestation of Aquarius was industrialization. As the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions were all giving their birth cry, Uranus was discovered. But the development of new technologies also created many problems which Aquarian humanitarianism later sought to alleviate. Packing people into factories with their poor work conditions, long hours, dismal housing and potential for disaster (such as fires), caught the public's sympathetic attention. This new industrialism, with the crowded cities, sudden economic crises leading to high prices and lost jobs, lack of food and water, freezing winters and hot tenements in the summer, epidemics of disease and death of children- were all factors that led to sporadic revolts from the oppressed poor. Their anger sometimes turned against the rich, or it could manifest as racial, religious or ethnic frustration and outrage. From riots to organized demonstrations and strikes, the voice of protest was heard increasingly in these changing times.
French Revolution

Storming of the Bastille
July 14, 1789

In 1828 the first recorded strike of factory workers occurred in a textile plant in Paterson, NJ. The workers' agitation for a ten-hour day was rebuffed. On August 21, 1831 there was a slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, who murdered about 70 whites before he was stopped and caught in late October. There was a Baltimore riot in the summer of 1835, when the Bank of Maryland collapsed and depositors lost their savings. Convinced of fraud, a crowd began breaking the windows of bank officials. When rioters burned down a house, the militia attacked, killing twenty people, and wounding a hundred. In 1835, twenty mills went on strike. Between 1835 and 1836, there were 140 strikes in the eastern US. Fifty different trades organized unions in Philadelphia, and there was a successful general strike of laborers, factory workers, bookbinders, jewelers, coal heavers, butchers, and cabinet workers who petitioned for a ten-hour day. Eccentrics also made their appearance, as Jackson was the first president whose life was threatened by an attack. Richard Lawrence fired twice while Jackson was attending a funeral, but both shots misfired. Aquarius can flush both the brilliant and the crazy, the inventor and the mad bomber.


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