Eclipse excitement is at its height across the USA, as it was with the UK August 1999 Eclipse. Despite fears of momentous events, if this one follows the 1999 one, nothing much of significance may happen immediately. Though it’s interesting to look at what events occurred close to a previous USA Total Solar Eclipse on 29 July 1878, seen across southern states. There was a tornado in Connecticut 10 days later which killed 34. More tragically that year there was an outbreak of yellow fever in the Mississippi Valley which killed over 13,000.
The previous winter had been abnormally cold and was followed in Texas by a plague of grass-hoppers. Politically the USA was sinking into the ‘gilded era’ so called satirically by Mark Twain which was a period of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. It was a time when political corruption, the spoils system, and back-room deals contributed to a weak federal government. So called Reconstruction after the Civil War came to an end, and the African-American people in the South, formerly slaves, were stripped of political power and voting rights and were left economically disadvantaged. Republican Rutherford Hayes had become president in 1876 in a contentious and controversial USA elections, despite have polled lower than the Democrat candidate, who won a majority of the popular vote.
The 1878 Eclipse was at 6 degrees Leo, so exactly conjunct the USA North Node, which should have been a wake-up call. But an attempt at a more progressive era took another decade plus to come into being. The Eclipse did coincide with a brutal and disruptive Pluto square Mars Uranus; as well as New Moon opposition Jupiter square Neptune, perhaps pointing to its slippery financial effect.
James Garfield who became Republican President in March 1881 was assassinated four months later. When his death occurred on 2 July 1881, on the 1878 Eclipse chart the New Moon had moved by Solar Arc to square the Neptune; and Solar Arc Pluto had moved to close to the square to Uranus to exact, with Solar Arc Mars square Pluto – that’s perhaps a touch obscure since you’d drown in data if you plotted all Eclipse charts for years after. But intriguing enough for major Total Eclipses on their path.
For previous posts on the August 2017 Eclipse see August 14 2017 and November 11 2016.
Image is of a drawing made at the time of the 1878 eclipse.