Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From Gilded Age to Progressive Era

From the late 19th century and in the early 20th century, there was a major political shift in the USA , which is very much aligned with the planetary periods in the SAMVA USA chart (Perpetual Union). In fact, while planetary transits explain the significant events, the periods give an amazing insight into major trends in US history. The chart indicates a similar major shift will take place in US politics from around 2016, with a general improvement lasting for several decades.

The Gilded Age (1865-1896)
The Gilded Age is considered to have reigned in the USA for roughly the three last decades of the 19th century. [1] This age began with the reconstruction following the destruction of the Civil War. Moreover, as the western lands were conquered, the massive infrastructure development expanded into the West. The Gilded Age was a period characterised by rapid population growth and extravagant displays of wealth and excess of America's upper-class during. Businessmen created industrial towns and cities in the Northeast with new factories. Railroads and the telegraph gradually connected all parts of the country. Along with the super-rich industrialists and financiers, an industrial working class emerged and it pushed for greater political representation.

While the conflict was raging, the businessmen were referred to as "robber barons" due to their use of overpowering tactics and sometimes unethical manipulations. The labor union movement was small at the founding of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, but continued to grow. Laws to curtail monopolistic business practices (Sherman Anti-Trust Act) were passed in the early 1890s. The Panic of 1893, which produced a depression that lasted for several years, led to a major political realignment in the election of 1896. The election sounded the death knell of the Gilded Age and the birth of the Progressive Era.

At the middle of the 19th century, the USA and Europe were judged to be at the same level of productivity and per-capita income. However, over time Europe fell steadily behind the USA. The USA showed a fundamental advantage in fostering and exploiting innovation. Moreover, American’s were more willing to work hard and long. In other words, there was a steady reduction in hours worked per person in Europe compared to America. Moreover, after the Civil War in the USA , there was increased political unity there, which fostered large-scale material-intensive manufacturing and a set of marketing innovations. [2] Importantly, the economic dynamism is very much seen in the natal potential of the SAMVA USA chart and is, therefore to one degree or another, an ongoing feature of the national life. Accordingly, while the major periods of Mercury, Ketu and Venus in the 19th century were associated with economic progress it was attended by sever panics and recessions as well as great social upheaval and tensions.

Astrology of the Gilded Age
From 1861, the three malefic sub-periods of Rahu, Jupiter as 6th lord and Saturn as 8th lord reigned during the Mercury major period. Mercury rules the 3rd house of initiative and transportation and is placed in the 7th house of foreign affairs, while widely combust the Sun. While a planet that is expected to bring positive influences, it is moderately weak and thus liable to setbacks when transit afflictions are significant. The three abovenoted sub-periods of functional malefic planets were operating in the period of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. As has been discussed earlier, natal placements provoked by transits of slow moving malefic planets explain the outbreak and convulsions at this time. The Ketu period (April 1869-April 1876) brought initial progress in terms of rebuilding and expanding cities and infrastructure, but also the social and ethnic upheavals in the post-war period associated with black rule in the South and misuse of Chinese labour. Ketu is a planet of separation and sudden events, and in the chart it afflicts the 4th house of collective harmony and fixed assets. More than any other placement it reflects the problems with racial and ethnic tensions in the national life of the USA. The Venus period (April 1876-April 1896) saw an accelerating economic development but with significant imbalances. After all, Venus is the ruler of the 4th house, afflicted by Ketu and is natally placed in the 6th house of opposition and conflict, which is also afflicted by Rahu, the planet of manipulations. The position of black people worsened dramatically, notably in the South during this period. A growing middle class required political representation and the first attempt was made to reign in the monopolies of the "Robber barons" and ensure their fair dealings. There were also significant economic and financial setbacks in this period, including the "Panic of 1873" and the "long recession" as well as the "Panic of 1893", which also brought with it a recession, one which lasted for three years.

A comparison to the second cycle of the periods of Mercury (-April 1989), Ketu (-April 1996) and Venus (-April 2016) may be helpful. The Mercury period was associated with the Reagan boom and the stock market upheaval of 1987. Problems with banks and Savings & Loans in the 1980s and into the early 1990s were associated with an economic recession in the early 1990s. In terms of infrastructure development, the growth of the internet, personal computers and cell phones have been some of the signal events, creating a new set of billionaires. The role of the USA also changed following the fall of Soviet Communism and this caused some political challenges associated with the US taking on the role of global policeman. During the Venus period, a housing boom and collapse was followed by a financial crisis and an economic recession in 2008/09. In racial and ethnic relations, the US has had ongoing challenges. The Rodney King beatings ushered in racial riots in LA and other cities in the early 1990s. In the Venus period, President Clinton became caught up in the sordid Monica Lewinsky scandal, resulting in legal proceedings leading to his impeachment but not removal from Office. The "political correctness" of speech became the source of several national incidents involving racial epiteths of radio personalities in the Venus period. Following the "9/11" attacks in 2001 there was a surge in patriotism and concerns arose that civil liberties would be curtailed. At the same time, this period has seen the election of the nations first black President. While great hopes have been attached to the election of President Obama, it is possible he will not accomplish as much as many are hoping for and that the reforms enacted will in the first instance only add to the financial and economic problems. Alternatively, there may be some backlash to such social progress. The good news is that the period of Venus is about to end.

The Progressive Era (1897-1920)
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of reform which ushered in the 20th century as progressive century. [3] The Progressive Movement, as a response to the challenges of industrialization, urbanization and immigration, advocated a wide range of economic, political, social, and moral reforms. Initially the movement was successful at local levels, and then it progressed to state and gradually national. Both the reformers and their opponents were predominantly members of the middle class. In U.S. history, the term progressivism refers to a broadly-based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century. The initial progressive movement arose as a response to the vast changes brought by the industrial revolution. While the Progressive period has been associated with reforms, there were plenty of problems and challenges that had to be met in those days. [4] However, the tenor of national life was much more positive than in the earlier Gilded Age.

The Panic of 1907 interrupted a decade long period of high economic growth in the USA. While the panic was real, its effects were soon drowned out in continued economic dynamism. A V-shaped recovery set in already in 1908. After 1913, the US economy surged further ahead, due to its early exploitation of the great inventions of electricity and the internal combustion engine, while Europe was distracted by wars and interwar economic chaos.

Astrology of the Progressive Era
During the Sun period, dynamism returned to US politics. The Sun is the general indicator of the President and the government leadership. It is also the functional lord of the 2nd house of status and wealth. As the Sun is strong in the most effective point of the 7th house, it influences both foreign policy and the 1st house of self. This placement explains why the USA is an empire and each chief executive is among the most important politicians on the world stage in his day. History shows that the Sun period is associated with a strong if not unrivaled position of the USA in the world. The Presidency of William McKinley (1897-1901) was associated with the gold standard and pluralism among ethnic groups. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era and McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893. President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, during the Sun period. This is consistent with 8th lord Saturn afflicting the natal Sun in the SAMVA USA chart. Theodor Roosevelt became president and he moved the Republican Party further in the direction of Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. Roosevelt coined the phrase "Square Deal" to describe his domestic agenda, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair shake under his policies. On the world stage, Roosevelt's policies were characterized by his comment, "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Roosevelt's Presidency, as was that of his successor Howard Taft, was for the most part during the Moon period (April 1902-April 1912). The Moon as 1st lord of self is placed in the 11th house of ideals and income. Americans are generally practically oriented but also idealists and ready to defende what they believe is right. The Moon is mutually aspecting with Jupiter as the 6th lord of conflict and Mars as 10th lord of the executive. The inclination is therefore not to back down from foreign provocations. The Moon period would also be expected to bring fame and importance. Roosevelt was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal; he sent out the Great White Fleet to display American power, and he negotiated an end to the Russian-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The birth of the modern auto industry in the USA can be considered to have taken place on January 14, 1914, when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line for the increasingly popular Ford model T. It is no surprise that this took place during the Mars period (April 1912-April 1919), which is associated with industry. As Mars is strong and well placed in the 5th house of creativity in the chart and is in mutual aspect with the Moon, as 1st lord of self, the period therefore coincided with important advances in industry. The link to the Moon gives Americans a sense of technical ability, coined in the phrase "Yankee know-how". The wide ranging technological achievements of the USA are very much associated with this combination in the chart. The World War I broke out during this period and the US participation was limited, but critial putting an end to the war and making the USA a leading peace broker following the war.

We can see that the Gilded Age was replaced by a much more confident and progressive era in US national and political life. This is consistent with the major planetary periods of the time. The national life in the USA since the 1980s has been characterised by great economic progress, with notable advances in communications infrastructure. However, imbalances, financial panics and social tensions have also been there. The forthcoming periods of the Sun (April 2016 - April 2022), Moon (- April 2032) and Mars (- April 2039) indicate that the US will experience a return to considerable progress in the national life during these periods, associated with policies that lead to a reduction in tensions over inequality or injustices, consistent with earlier such periods in the national life.

[1] Wikipedia: The Gilded Age
[2] Robert J. Gordon, 2004, “Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the American Frontier” NBER Working Paper No. 10662.
[3] Wikipedia: The Progressive Era
[4] Progressive era slide show

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