Thursday, June 09, 2011

Peterloo ~ Birth of The Guardian Newspaper

Following yesterday's theme and pondering famous examples of mass protest by ordinary people in days gone by, my thoughts turned to another such event, this from the history of the north of England city of Manchester, county of Lancashire, during the years of the Industrial Revolution: The Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

In early 19th century England only wealthy property owners were allowed to vote. Ordinary people began to feel the same anger as their cousins in the USA had felt in the previous century about taxation without representation. Manchester was one centre where the Industrial Revolution, via the cotton trade, had spawned a a large population, few of whom had the right to vote. Attempts to persuade the government to broaden the right to vote had been continually resisted. The wealthy had much to lose. Memories of the French Revolution, 30 years earlier, still hovered.

On 16 August 1819 Henry Hunt, a well-known campaigner for voting reform was to speak at a meeting in Manchester. In order to avert problems those in power brought in 400 special constables, 1500 infantry 100 cavalry, Hussars and Yeomanry, and Royal horse Artillery with a 6-pounder cannon. Pretty heavy-handed considering the meeting was to be a peaceful gathering of unarmed working-class folk from Manchester and surrounding towns and villages.

A crowd of around 60,000 is reported to have gathered, including some all-female contingents dressed all in white, supporting universal suffrage for males (their own time was to come in the years that followed).

Before the speeches were properly underway, magistrates decided, at the very last minute to ban the meeting, and first sent 60 cavalry in to arrest the speakers, then more and more troops advanced as the first 60 became engulfed in the crush. Cavalry galloped into the crowd wielding sabres. At the same time the infantry, with bayonets fixed, positioned themselves at the main exits and blocked escape routes. Those who did escape were pursued through the streets.
Around 15 people were killed and between 400 and 700 injured - trampled by horses, or cut by the wildly swinging sabres of the militia.

From the chart (above right) showing planetary positions at noon on 16 August 1819 in Manchester it's easy to see a challenging situation existed, formed by square and opposition aspects between Mars (aggression), Mercury (communication), Pluto/Saturn (death/restriction) and Uranus/Neptune (rebellion/dreams).

I has been acknowledged that Peterloo was hugely influential in ordinary people winning the right the vote, as well as leading to the rise of the Chartist Movement from which grew the Trades Unions.

Another result of the Peterloo Massacre was the foundation of a reformist newspaper: The Manchester Guardian (nowadays known simply as The Guardian - or affectionatley "The Grauniad" - a nickname earned and popularised by satirical magazine Private Eye due to a history of typographical errors including the newspaper's own name .

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor, a young cotton merchant, on 5 May 1821 in the wake of the Peterloo Massacre. Taylor, a reformer and religious nonconformist, aimed to produce a newspaper committed to political change and based upon truthful reporting.
The Guardian celebrated its 190th birthday a few weeks ago. I wonder if its "natal chart" is appropriate for the birth of a reformist newspaper. Let's see:

Chart is set for 6 am on the date of the first issue of the's birth into the world. The Manchester Guardian had Sun and Venus in down-to-earth Taurus, not perhaps the Sun sign expected, but Taurus is a very rooted sign, and its roots have become strong over more than 190 years...the newspaper certainly had had Taurus's staying power and loyalty to purpose. Theose 4 planets in Aries, including the sign's ruler, Mars gave it pioneering drive and the cource of aggression when called for. Moon in Gemini = communication (Gemini) with The People (Moon). With ourter planets Uranus (rebellion) and Neptune (dreams, creativity) exactly and appropriately conjoined in Capricorn (business) in harmonious trine to Sun/Venus in Taurus. Uranus/Neptune was also in out-of-sign opposition to Moon, which represents something of a balancing act between the need to protest or rebel/dream of rebellion and the way to present this to The People in a responsible way.

The chart describes the birth of The Manchester Guardian well.


Gian Paul said...

Good information about the Guardian (which I read almost daily). What's amazing with the Brits is their predilection for coloured uniforms, ladies' hats and despite all that a strong inclination towards social justice and being modern. Not dull people...

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Glad you found it of interest GP.

Your view of "the Brits" gave me a chuckle or two. :-)

The two instances described in yesterday's and today's posts involve purely the English, rather than the British (who include Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish).

The English are an odd bunch, for sure, with inherited traits from all the many invaders of the islands throughout early history....a wee bit Viking, a wee bit Norman, a wee bit Roman as well as hints of the Celts, Picts and Scots who raped and pillaged across the borders from time to time.

Where the predilection for ladies' hats came from goodness knows! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Very, very interesting info on the Guardian. I look forward to reading and learning much more from your blog, as I am somewhat new to this whole field.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Hi! Thanks for your visit. I'm glad to know that you found this topic of interest. :-)

Anonymous said...

Can there be any roman in the english. Didn't the anglo saxons only arrive in Britain in the 5th Century BC, long after the romans had left. I thought it would only be the indigenous tribal celts who were colonised by the romans and would have mixed with them.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Thanks -you're right regarding the Anglo-Saxons who ought to have been included in my list. Still, speaking of the English, as we know them today, a few of them could possibly have a strand of Roman in heir bloodlines. Populations changed in waves, cross-breeding could well have happened within all the waves, traces of each would remain. I guess. :-) I was really simply pointing out what mongrels we English are....that's all.