How long, Mr Trump, will you go on abusing our patience?
I did not actually go on an anti-Trump march on Saturday. It’s somewhat to my shame, but not just laziness. I have actually started writing my Images of Emperors book, and at almost 2000 words in I wasn’t going to down tools for even the best cause.
But I am pleased to say that both the children did, the son in DC and the daughter in Rome. I much liked her picture of the march outside the Pantheon (below). But with an even bigger classical theme, thanks very much to @whitmanthesloth for the picture at the top from DC, which uses the first line of Cicero’s In Catilinam I in a very appropriate way (‘how long will you go on abusing our patience Catiline/Trump?’)
But as I was musing over the Latin and the protests I was missing, I did find myself pondering also on the history of the protest march, as an institution. How old is it? Well it isn’t ancient that’s for sure. Romans rioted and attacked their political enemies or those who were starving them of food. They could kick up a terrible fuss. But the only time they walked through the streets of the city with placards was in a triumphal procession or other religious celebrations. And that wasn’t protest.
So when does it start (and I guess I am thinking about the UK, but parallels would be useful if you have them).
I thought first of Peterloo in 1819. People certainly ‘marched’ in from outside Manchester, but on that occasion those marches were instrumental. They were how you got to the meeting and the speeches, not an end in itself. On a modern march, the speeches at the end are not really the point (and I have hardly ever stayed for that bit)… it’s taking over the city en masse that’s the main aim.
Maybe the Jarrow marches are closer. But even there the march was partly about getting to London. So is it really not till the Aldermaston marches in the 50s and 60s that we get the first modern protest march as we know it.
Have I forgotten something dead obvious?
(And while you are at it, you might reflect on another of my origin puzzles: when were the first academic conferences as we know them?)
Here is this post in the other format.