Musings on "100 Days": Then & Now
by Gloria R. Lalumia
As Republicans basked in the glow of success at the completion of their "100 Days" agenda, the 50th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death (April 12, 1945) was quietly observed at the "Little White House" in Warm Springs, Georgia. In a time when economic insecurity is becoming more and more a part of American life and the safety net is being fragmented into block grants, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt paid tribute to her grandfather by quoting from his first inaugural address (March 4, 1933) in which he stated that "we must ...minister to our fellow men." She also recalled FDR's 1944 proposal for an "economic bill of rights" encompassing the right to a job, an adequate wage, decent medical care, and a good education.
Now, with the 104th Congress moving beyond the symbolic "100 Days" mark of the "Contract with America" and FDR's "New Deal" proclaimed dead, the Republicans' focus is directed toward creating a budget which reduces spending on social programs and the federal government's role in how these programs are run. How far will the 104th Congress go in dismantling many of the programs that were inspired by FDR's legacy? Alex Miller-Mignone, in his recent article (Pisces 1995) suggests the current Congress, with its Retrograde Mars, could "do nothing" or become "The Wreck of the Hesperus."
Over 60 years ago Retrograde Mars apparently didn't hamper the work of the 73rd Congress as it began working on the "New Deal" which FDR had proposed during the 1932 Presidential campaign. When FDR took office, the country was adrift. The Great Depression had reached its depths, and FDR promised a "New Deal" based on the idea that "government should take on any functions necessary to protect the unfortunate and advance the public good."
Just five days after his inauguration, FDR called Congress into Special Session (March 9, 1933 at 12 noon as reported by The New York Times). Even the most conservative business leaders were ready for the government to intervene. During the period which came to be known as "The Hundred Days" partisanship was actually subordinated as the needs of the country were addressed before Congress adjourned in June.
While both the current Congress and the 73rd Congress of 1933 share a similar push to quickly enact legislation, the differences in their agendas are clearly evident in their respective charts.
The 104th and 73rd Congresses
In the chart of the 104th Congress the Sun/Mercury/Uranus/Neptune stellium in Capricorn in the 10th House indicates what Miller-Mignone calls a "working Congress" with new ideas (Mercury/Uranus) and possible confusion over the direction to take (Sun/Neptune). All that Capricorn doesn't leave much room for the type of nurturance and inspirational qualities seen in the chart of the 73rd Congress.
The see-saw pattern of the 73rd Congress chart works around the MC/IC axis involving the signs of Pisces and Virgo, respectively. The 10th House Sun in Pisces conjunct the MC indicates that the President and his administration will lead the country with compassion and be able to inspire the populace. Further supporting this theme is the Ceres/North Node/Venus conjunction to the MC in Pisces in the 9th House. With the 9th House representing the seat of commerce, public opinion , and the commonly accepted values of the country, the issues of nurturance (Ceres), prosperity (Venus), and the need to inspire support and faith in the direction of the country (North Node) are emphasized. Tenth House Uranus and Mercury in Aries contribute the energy to initiate the new, progressive reforms and communicate the administration's goals to the country.
FDR made full use of these potentials as he began his term and called Congress to action. In the 5 days between his inauguration and the Special Session, almost half a million letters poured into the White House. Typical of the feeling FDR brought to the country, one writer stated that "Your human feeling for all of us in your address is just wonderful" while another wrote that "It seemed to give the people...a new hold on life."
Planetary Forces and Aspects
In juxtaposition to the inspirational issues in the chart of the 73rd Congress are the more practical realities represented by the energies on the IC. The focus is on securing the foundation of the society by strengthening the capitalist system which was at a standstill in 1933 (Jupiter in the 4th House conjunct the IC). The 2nd/3rd House Moon energies emphasize the concerns of the people over the economy and security of the of the nation. The difficulties of this situation are stressed by the presence of a Yod formed by the Retrograde Mars/Neptune conjunction on the IC sextiling Juno with both quincunxing Mercury at the apex. The administration faces the task of keeping in touch (Mercury) with the needs of those who feel powerless (Juno). The Retrograde Mars/Neptune conjunction in Virgo on the IC carries the possibility that the people will be willing to struggle toward their hopes and expectations but also holds the potential for letdown and the breakdown of idealism if government policies don't bring results. Further underscoring the important role of the 1933 Congress in healing the country and dealing with the long term hopes of its citizens is the sextile between Pluto in Cancer in the 1st House (crisis leading to transformation in the state of home affairs) and Chiron in Taurus in the 11th, which also squares the Moon in the 2nd House (wealth of the nation). FDR managed to diffuse the potential difficulties by recruiting eager, talented people to staff the new government agencies and bombarding Congress with no fewer than 15 special messages. Washington's whole atmosphere changed to one of optimism and activity.
Both the charts of the 104th and 73rd Congresses show a strong emphasis on the theme of shared resources, with the chart of the current Congress showing a Venus/Pluto/Jupiter stellium in the 8th House (perhaps a transformation in how the wealth is divided that goes to extremes?) and the chart of the 73rd Congress housing Saturn , which also opposes the 2nd House Moon. The Saturn/Moon conjunction in the 11th House of the chart of the current Congress, as pointed out by Miller-Mignone, describes the Republican Representatives' plans to cut social services while Saturn in the 8th House opposing the 2nd House Moon in the 73rd Congress chart describes the general poverty of resources and the lack of security experienced by the general populace in 1933.
Saturn and Ceres
At the time the Special Session was called to order, Saturn was transiting FDR's natal 5th House Aquarian Sun within minutes of being in exact conjunction, a perfect indicator that Roosevelt was assuming full authority and responsibility for setting the country on the road to recovery.
FDR tackled the national financial problems first. Congress passed an emergency banking bill, the country went off the gold standard, and by the end of The Hundred Days Congress had established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The particular importance of Ceres on the MC is clearly evident in the way the Congress and FDR zeroed in on problems relating to agriculture, farmers, and labor, all ruled by Ceres. Agriculture received special attention because Roosevelt believed the country was becoming overindustrialized at the expense of small farmers . Congress also created the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs for young workers in reforestation and other conservation projects as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which improved the living standards of millions.
The problems of unemployment and industrial stagnation was also a high priority. Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act to stimulate existing industry. This law also gave workers the protection of the minimum wage and maximum hours regulations, in addition to the right to collective bargaining. FERA provided public works jobs for several million jobless workers. The WPA, which wasn't disbanded until 1943, found work for 8.5 million people, including writers, actors, and artists, creating a cultural "revolution" in the nation, while the National Youth Administration created over 2 million jobs for high school and college students who needed financial help.
After laying the groundwork for the New Deal during The Hundred Days in 1933, Roosevelt launched the 2nd New Deal in June of 1935. Congress passed the Social Security Act and increased taxes on the wealthy, while FDR created the Rural Electrification Administration by executive order. By the 1936 election, FDR's program and personality had captured the land. He swamped Republican contender (Alf Landon) and a third party candidate by 10 million votes. In the entire nation the Republicans elected only 89 representatives and their strength in the Senate fell to 16, an all time low.
As we go into the next phase of the current Republican reign, demonstrations have been held in many cities against budget cuts which are perceived as targeting the poor and leaving the wealthy untouched. A major rally is scheduled for October in Washington, D.C. As the policies that once healed a nation and became part of our American way of life are targeted, one can only speculate on the results if the Republicans are as successful in pushing through their agenda. On the 50th Anniversary of FDR's death, will the country be witnessing the demise of a legacy that has "ministered" to its citizens for so long?
Garraty, John A. The American Nation: A History of the United States. Harper & Row, New York,1966. (All quotations are from this source.)
Nelson, Lars-Erik. "FDR's Legacy Stands Tall as a Georgia Pine," Newsday, April 18, 1995.
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