Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another US Radical ~ Mother Jones

Yesterday's post featured Sarah Palin, a modern-day agitator who, to my mind is seriously misguided. An American female from the past who fits my bill more easily is the lady known as Mother Jones, once referred to in the US Senate as "the grandmother of all agitators". She was born in Cork, Ireland, daughter and grandaughter of Irish freedom fighters. Her grandfather was hanged; her father, Richard Harris, his wife and family fled to America in 1835. Mother Jones' real name was Mary Harris Jones. She grew up in Ontario, Canada, moved to the US and taught in Michigan and Memphis; worked as a seamstress in Chicago, married George E. Jones, an iron worker and enthusiastic union member, who no doubt helped to form her future passion for justice and improvement in the lives of the poor and working classes.
Whatever your fight, don't be ladylike. (Mother Jones)

From "Mother Jones, "The Miners' Angel" by Mara Lou Hawse

Life was relatively good for Mary Harris Jones until 1867. That year, when she was 37years old, within one week her husband and their four small children died in a yellow fever epidemic. After the epidemic had run its course, she returned to Chicago where, once again, she began to work as a dressmaker.
But tragedy followed Mother Jones. Four years later, in 1871, she lost everything she owned in the great Chicago fire. That event also changed her life drastically, and she discovered a new path to follow. She became involved in the labor movement and began to attend meetings of the newly formed Knights of Labor "in an old, tumbled down, fire scorched building."

One biographer believes that Mother Jones's interest in the labor movement really began when she sewed for wealthy Chicago families and observed the blatant economic and social inequities that existed. According to Fetherling, she said: "Often while sewing for the lords and barons who lived in magnificent houses on the Lake Shore Drive, I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front.... The contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me. My employers seemed neither to notice nor to care......
.....During the time she was most active in the labor movement, the country was changing dramatically, from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. Small enterprises were replaced by large ones.

The nature of work and of workers was altered. Waves of immigrants and displaced farmers dug the nation's coal and forged its steel. All too often, they received in return only starvation wages and nightmarish conditions. Within these men smoldered the sparks of class conflict which Mother Jones would fan for 50 years. To these workers, she would become an anchor to the past and an arrow toward a better future."

She later became a traveling lecturer for the Socialist Party of America, then a co-Founder of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). She left the Socialist Party in 1911 to return to assist in organising the United Mine Workers , and was still working in that capacity in West Virginia at age 93, after a decade earlier having been convicted and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a military court. The then 83-year old battler was set free quite quickly by the new state Governor, after trouble had erupted in the Senate. Later though she was imprisoned on two occasions following strikes and marches, a notable one being to raise awareness about the horrors of child labor and the need for its abolition.



Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit! (Mother Jones)
There is some doubt about Mother Jones' correct birth data. There's no doubt about the place - it was Cork, Ireland. Some sources give 1 August 1837, while others state that she herself gave 1 May 1830 as her birth date. Out of interest and curiosity I've erected a chart for both dates - for 12 noon so rising signs will not be accurately shown, and Moon degree will not be reliable, unless in mid-sign even the sign will be in doubt. There should be enough to go on and to make a stab at which is the "real" chart for Mother Jones.
What I'd expect to be clearly indicated is a driving, passionate force for social justice, lots of energy, linkage of Uranus to personal planets - Uranus the avant garde rebel.

1 August 1837


Well....on balance I prefer the chart for 1 May 1830.

The 1 August 1837 chart has Sun, 3 personal planets and quite likely Moon all in Leo. Leo is certainly the sign of leadership, a trait which Mother Jones obviously possesssed in spades....so that much fits. But what kind of leadership does this chart indicate? Sun is in helpful sextile to energetic Mars and confrontationally square to Saturn which can either represent work (and workers?) or limitation and restriction. Uranus the avant garde rebel at 7 Pisces is in quincunx (an uncomfortable scratchy alignment to Mother Jones' Sun, but in harmonious trine to Saturn in Scorpio - that's not a very good fit in my opinion.


1 May 1830



The 1 May 1830 chart has Sun and Mercury in stubborn, practical Taurus forming conflicting square aspects to Saturn in Leo and Mars/Uranus in Aquarius. I like this, especially Uranus conjunct Mars which adds energy and dynamism to the rebellious spirit and challenges the more staid and practical Taurus Sun, both traits and their accompanying challenge were needed for the work this lady chose to do. Natal Moon would have been in Leo or Virgo - I'd guess Leo - the leadership indication needed here. As for the overall generational atmosphere, in 1830 Uranus and Saturn were in opposition, much as they are at present. This is a far more appropriate scenario for bringing forth Mother Jones' type traits, astrologically, than the trine between Uranus and Saturn contained in the 1837 chart.

I rest my case, but am open to correction!

A final quote from Mother Jones - still as appropriate today:

I believe that no man who holds a leader's position should ever accept favors from either side. He is then committed to show favors. A leader must stand alone.
PS: Mustn't forget to mention the website bearing her name:
Mother Jones.


4 comments:

R J Adams said...

"Often while sewing for the lords and barons who lived in magnificent houses on the Lake Shore Drive, I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front.... The contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me. My employers seemed neither to notice nor to care......

It's time the myth of the 'American Dream' was buried forever.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Yes, indeed!

I so admire these radicals of days gone by, their strength of will to oppose wrongs and injustice, and their clear vision of what was wrong with society.

jude cowell said...

what a fantastic post!

Twilight said...

jude cowell ~~ Thanks Jude - so kind of you! :-)