Scottish flag and the Union Jack

Scotland: the road to independence

  1. Scotland: the State, the Nation, Home Rule, and Devolution
  2. The Act of Union of 1707
  3. Scottish Home Rule
  4. The rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP)
  5. The Scottish Parliament
  6. Scotland: the road to independence

Scottish independence referendum, 2014

In August 2009 the SNP announced a Referendum Bill would be included in its package of bills to be debated before Parliament in 2009–10, to hold a referendum on the issues of Scottish independence in November 2010.

The bill did not pass due to the SNP’s status as a minority administration, and due to the initial opposition to the Bill from all other major parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Following the Scottish Parliament general election, in 2011 the SNP had a majority in parliament and again brought forward an Independence Referendum Bill.

The Scottish Government also suggested that full fiscal autonomy for Scotland (known as “devo-max”) could be an alternative option in the vote.

The negotiation of the Edinburgh Agreement (2012) resulted in the UK government legislating to provide the Scottish Parliament with the power to hold the referendum.

The “devo-max” option was not included, however, as the Edinburgh Agreement stipulated that the referendum had to be a clear binary choice between independence or the existing devolution arrangements.

The Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013 was passed by the Scottish Parliament and campaigning commenced. Two days before the referendum was held, with polls very close, the leaders of the three main UK political parties made “The Vow”, a public pledge to devolve “extensive new powers” to the Scottish Parliament if independence was rejected. They also agreed to a devolution timetable proposed by Gordon Brown.

After heavy campaigning by both sides, voting took place on 18 September 2014. Independence was rejected by a margin of 45% in favour to 55% against.

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The American Civil War : 1860-1865 photo

The American Civil War: 1861-1865

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

The American Civil War started with the secession crisis on April 12 1861 and ended with the assassination of Lincoln and the abolition of slavery on May 9, 1865. It transformed the political, economic and social life of the nation.

It first began with a constitutional struggle and then became a test of federal authority but soon took a broader dimension. The initial belief it would be short proved tragically to be mistaken.

The seceding states fought to achieve independence and yet, they closely modeled the government of their Confederacy on the American one. Lincoln’s administration responded with a crusade to preserve the union and expanded its war aims to include the destruction of slavery and the liberation of all black slaves.

In the end, the Union had been preserved and questions left unresolved were answered at a very high cost in human terms: 600 000 lives, which is still the largest fatality in any American war (it was worse than Vietnam).

The Civil War: the story of a secession

The secession started in South Carolina, which withdrew from the Union. It was a direct response to Lincoln’s election. That decision was taken in December 1860. In less than 6 weeks, the other 6 states of the “Lower South” had also seceded: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

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Repression and Censorship photo

Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

  1. Organized Crime in America
  2. Evolution of Organized Crime
  3. Organized Crime : Expression and Repression
  4. Organized Crime and the Prohibition
  5. Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

Organization of the Repression

With John Edgar Hoover, the FBI had certain successes in its fight against Organized Crime. The FBI was/is a federal agency that could/can work across the territory. Police forces were sometimes ill-trained because they faced very well organized murderers.

1933 saw the creation of the Bureau of Investigation (Justice), the Prohibition Bureau (Department of the Treasury and eventually to the Department of Justice), and the Bureau of Identification.

The FBI emphasized figures to receive more subventions and for the training of policemen, the FBI became a kind of police academy.

The codes of appearances tell the fall or rise of the gangster. It is sometimes wrong: they can die very well-dressed. Banquets are social rituals, as well as funerals.

In Little Caesar, once they killed someone they would attend his funerals very well dressed. Repression is a spectacle in a way: FBI and politics of prestige.

President Hoover used the media a lot: he collaborated with the media and the movie industry to create a positive image of the war on crime. The Kefauver hearings were televised for the first time. In a way, it was a show.

The cinema was the major medium to picture Organized Crime. Ten years later, TV would be a great threat to movies. Hearings were televised live: immediacy and power.

Organized Crime was in the streets and on the screens: dialectic between expression and repression. New forms of expression both in reality and in fiction.

When Hollywood involved censorship, it became an indirect form of expression but it was still depicting Organized Crime.

The image of America on screen is that of a country in which morality should impose images. Always new forms for gangsters on film even if censorship was present.

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Evolution of Organized Crime photo

Evolution of Organized Crime

  1. Organized Crime in America
  2. Evolution of Organized Crime
  3. Organized Crime : Expression and Repression
  4. Organized Crime and the Prohibition
  5. Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

Evolution of Gangsterism

1929: Wall Street crash. Prohibition is an attempt to decrease the revenue of alcohol.

1933: election of Franklin Roosevelt, who sets up the New Deal.

1934: Repeal of the Prohibition. Roosevelt had realized the importance of the ethnic vote, and especially the Catholic vote.

Creation of the Work Progress Administration (W.P.A.): the state provides the jobs. The Organized Crime became less of a necessity.

The vision of the gangster also evolved in the movies: he is now presented as a thing of the past.

When R. Sullivan gets out of prison after the repeal of the Prohibition, he does not fit in anymore: he is out of touch. The idea is that once you have been into illegal activities you can take the money and go into legal activities (some Jewish businessmen are grandchildren of earlier Organized Crime gangsters).

Gangsterism is doomed to vanish but the gangsters have not disappeared, they are still killed by other gangsters.

To go legit: to go legitimate. Gangland reconversion: gangsters could change by investing illegal money into illegal businesses.

The Organized Crime went more and more into legal activities. The State creates its counterpower: the lottery, which is legal in certain states.

Las Vegas was created by the Mafia (Bugsy Siegel). He opened the first casino, the Stardust; which was controlled by the Mafia and connected between legal and illegal activities.

Siegel was also interested in Hollywood but there was no very known widespread involvement of Organized Crime in the movie industry, except for the Browne-Bioff episode.

The Browne-Bioff plan

The Browne-Bioff episode started in Chicago: Willy Bioff was a Chicago racketeer in partnership with George Browne, a local official for a trade union (I.A.T.S.E.: International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees).

The association had a campaign of extortion from the theatre director to avoid strikes and loss of money.

This campaign extended nationwide and touched Hollywood (RKO and Fox gave money in exchange for peace on the labour front). In 1941, all came to the surface.

Joseph M. Schenk, president of Fox, got arrested by the police and in exchange for a lighter sentence, he denounced the Browne-Bioff plan.

World War II

The structure of Organized Crime did not change except that it sometimes worked with the American government.

The Americans feared German submarines to attack the coast so Organized Crime ensured the waterfront workers’ liability to the government.

The Cold War

1951: the Kefauver Commission was set up to investigate crime and McCarthy was against the communists. Both are often associated. The Kefauver Commission was headed by Senator Kefauver (for Tennessee).

In 1950, he became chairman of the Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce. The committee studied:

  • inter-state gambling and racketeering
  • use of inter-state facilities for Organized Crime (railway…)

1967-1968: Omnibus Crime Bill, allowing for wire topping. Organized Crime is a reflection of American society. It places the Kefauver Commission in the Cold War atmosphere.

Organized Crime : Expression and Repression photo

Organized Crime : Expression and Repression

  1. Organized Crime in America
  2. Evolution of Organized Crime
  3. Organized Crime : Expression and Repression
  4. Organized Crime and the Prohibition
  5. Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

There is a parallel between Organized Crime and the movie industry. Organized Crime was one of the ways for social climbing, of getting out of poverty and ethnic matters.

In the main Hollywood studios, many directors were ethnics: Samuel Goldwyn and Louis Mayer (M.G.M. studios: Metro Goldwyn Mayer), David O. Selznick, Charles Chaplin…

The cinema was a new technology founded by the elite, the ethnic entrepreneurs and the W.A.S.P. businessmen. Some innovative sections of business were opened for the same reason (legitimate, profitable). These people found a renovation of the American Dream either in Organized Crime or in cinema.

Producers did not push gangster films for the simple reason that it was not that popular at the time. They gave the public what they wanted (and the WASPs were rather conservative). It is only when it generalized that gangster movies “took off”.

Another connection: several actors became movie stars because of their ethnic origins: James Cagney was Irish. (Public Enemy), Paul Muni was (Scarface)…

They brought the ethnic accent to the screen. They would have never been movie stars in classic films. It is thanks to the gangster movies and to the parallel made with Organized Crime.

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Organized Crime and the Prohibition photo

Organized Crime and the Prohibition

  1. Organized Crime in America
  2. Evolution of Organized Crime
  3. Organized Crime : Expression and Repression
  4. Organized Crime and the Prohibition
  5. Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

Introduction

You cannot rely on newspaper articles. Recently, it featured the confessions of repenting organized crime members, i.e. the distorted truth for their interests. The police distorted the figures to get credit and money from the Federal Government.

Organized crime was considered a kind of un-American activity. Since more gangsters were ethnic (Jews, Russians, etc), calling them “un-American” was a way of dismissing American roots.

In Scarface, the motto “the world is yours” highlights the ironic vision between the American Dream and the gangsters.

The structure of organized crime is that of a bureaucratic and corporate model. It looks like a company organic line, with a complex hierarchy and a division of labour.

Responsibilities are carried out in an impersonal manner and the function is more important than the person.

Organized crime is a mirror of monopoly capitalism and from earlier gangster movies, it is considered as a business.

In Asphalt Jungle, “crime is just a left-handed form of human endeavour”.

The difference between organized crime and any corporation is that you cannot use written support: it relies on secrecy and personal networks.

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Organized Crime in America photo

Organized Crime in America

  1. Organized Crime in America
  2. Evolution of Organized Crime
  3. Organized Crime : Expression and Repression
  4. Organized Crime and the Prohibition
  5. Organized Crime: Repression and Censorship

Organized Crime in America (1929 – 1951)

1929: Wall Street crash, which forced gangsters to find a new way of making money in a time of recession. 1951: middle of the Cold War.

Kefauver hearings started the huge mystification of the Mafia, discovering that organized crime was still on in the U.S. First TV debates on organized crime.

In history, gangsters and Organized Crime did exist. Between history and culture, there are matters of ideology: in what way does that interact with what was seen on screen?

Presence of censorship and self-regulation for films. Sometimes people wanted to ban or censor gangster films: interactions between politics, culture and crime. Movies influenced the war against crime.

The history of Hollywood is that of people for and against those movies. Creation of compromises: “production code” (not censorship) to see what people disliked and to escape post-censorship.

But how censorship is possible in the US? (c.f. the first Americans and the liberty of expression). It was considered as a commercial venture. A way of skirting the censorship was to show 2 shots to see a person killed instead of one (the latter was prohibited).

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O'Sullivan's Manifest Destiny photo

O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

Introduction

O’Sullivan is one of the most famous journalists in American history. He is the one who coined the expression “Manifest Destiny”.

He was a Democrat and the official spokesman for American expansion (we should remember that Democrats stood for expansion whereas Republicans were against it).

O’Sullivan wrote two important articles: “The Great Nation of Futurity” in 1839 and “Annexation” in 1845, where he added a justification to American expansion.

For O’Sullivan, the two major words were “manifest destiny” and “justification”. That theme of destiny is not new: since the beginning of American history, the Puritans have always emphasized the special destiny of America.

That conception, based on exceptionalism, was essentially religious and lasted for two centuries.

In the 19th century, the theme of destiny became a political ambition, an official policy led by President Polk, who was elected on a manifest destiny platform. The 19th century was more down-to-earth.

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Life in the Plantations photo

Life in the Plantations

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

Introduction

Most slaves were forced to work long hours under close supervision. Most slaves could rely on their masters for basic welfare: clothes, food, and shelter.

On many plantations, slaves grew their gardens and some even enjoyed a few holidays or received some rewards.

Subjugation and resistance

Concerning the problem of subjugation, the slaveholders tightly circumscribed the world of their slaves: they had to carry passes with them when they were off the plantation and were forbidden to go out at night.

There were slave patrols, vigilant in finding offenders. Punishment was severe and quick.

As a means to prevent communication, the Slave Code forbade teaching slaves how to read and write; but about 10% of the slaves risked punishment to achieve literacy: the ability to read and write was understood to be the key to freedom.

Concerning resistance, the degree to which slaves resisted their subjugation reinforced the police state (1831: Nat Turner’s rebellion). Either they resisted or ran away.

A successful escape was very difficult. Despite the number of punishments, there were always runaways willing to take the chance of escaping and reaching the North.

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Social context of America in the early 19th century photo

The social context of America in the early 19th century

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

Introduction

In the late 18th century, the American Constitution accepted the existence of slavery. It was considered an institution: there have always been slaves since the 18th century.

They chose black slaves instead of Indians because of the trial of Valladolid, where people wondered if the Native was a man or simply an animal. It turned out to be a theological problem: if the Native did not have a soul then he was an animal.

In the end, they declared that Natives had a soul and this “discovery” caused an economic shock: the Natives could not be employed anymore in plantations and ships started bringing in African slaves.

Slavery

Towards the end of the 18th century, people thought slavery would naturally die out. They were very naive.

Unfortunately, Whitney invented the Cotton Gin and put an end to those naive considerations.

Rather than declining, the number of slaves increased in the South: in 1820, there were 1,500,000 slaves in America. There were 4,000,000 in 1860.

Slavery was an economic problem for 75% of the cotton crops were exported, representing 60% of America”s foreign earnings. Slavery was hence very profitable to the South and – by way of consequence – to the whole continent.

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The Reconstruction photo

After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

Introduction

The American Civil War resolved 2 important questions that had not been addressed by the Founding Fathers:

  • the question of sovereignty and the place of the States in the Union
  • the question derived from the conflict about the constitutional protection of slavery

With the collapse of the Confederacy, the Government confronted the difficult issue related to the readmission of the seceding States and the citizenship of former slaves.

A new phase

On April 13th, 1865, President Lincoln and his wife went to Ford Theater in Washington to see the play called Our American Cousin.

At 10:30, the president was shot in the back in the dark. A man, named Booth, jumped onto the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis“. He was captured a few days later. Lincoln died the following day.

Lincoln was succeeded by his vice-president Andrew Johnson. The biggest problem Johnson faced was how to deal with the defeated South.

A few weeks before, Lincoln had asked the Americans to “bind up the nation’s wounds” and rebuild their homeland.

Lincoln blamed individual Southern leaders for the war, rather than the people of the seceding states. He intended to punish only these guilty individuals and leave the rest of the South’s people alone.

Johnson introduced plans to reunite the nation. As soon as the leaders of the South were loyal to the US government, they could elect new state assemblies to run their states.

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Ante Bellum South photo

Antebellum South

  1. Introduction to Puritanism and Expansionism
  2. Antebellum South
  3. Life in the Plantations
  4. USA: North and South
  5. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny
  6. The social context of America in the early 19th century
  7. The American Civil War: 1861-1865
  8. America: The New Nation
  9. After the American Civil War: The Reconstruction
  10. America: West to the Pacific
  11. Years of Growth

Introduction

The South had developed a unique society and a sense of Southern nationalism. The conflict with the North and the secession were an attempt to create an independent nation.

Also a contrast, the South had developed a class system whereas the North was characterized by a social structure.

Antebellum South

A Southern ideology – based on aristocracy – justified slavery. Many (crazy) explanations were put forward like: “the African race is biologically inferior” or “physically and mentally under-developed”.

Through slavery, they could adjust to a better kind of life, and be taught new morals and the “true religion”. All that was part of the Southern ideology: “Some people must work and sweat to provide those in charge with leadership”.

Southern society is hedonistic when the North advocates the Puritan ethic (moral – virtue – hard work, according to the Bible).

After 1830, abolitionist societies began violent campaigns against slavery. Garrison was an extremist abolitionist who printed/invented sensational stories about how cruelly black slaves were treated in the South.

Slaveholders were depicted as monsters and, in the North, slavery was seen as a sin against God (move on to the religious ground). Garrison wanted the “purification of the Nation from the guilt of slavery”.

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