Origins Of The Mafia Essay

1137 words - 5 pages

Although the mafia has had it's strongest presence in America, their roots stretch all the way back to an island in the Mediterranean. Sicily, Italy is the birthplace of the modern day "mafia", otherwise known as "la cosa nostra" (our thing, this thing of ours). With the Napoleonic wars through World War I separated Sicilians from Rome, the law, and thus most of the corrupt and unstable Italian government. Being away from government, Sicilians developed their own form of rules and ways of life. The local Don of an area would be called on to sort out differences, bless marriages, and set the town standards for laws and mores. With these Dons eventually competing for power and money, they developed into a sophisticated secret society known in Italy and early America as "The Black Hand." Organized crime in Italy had begun, as these men became some of the most powerful men in Italy, as they had infiltrated nearly all of the government departments and organizations. To be part of "this thing", one had to be "made", which would mean being of Italian descent, swearing an oath, and adhering to the mafia code of amerta, which is their code of silence. As Italians began to immigrate to the United States in the late 19th century, the Dons tried to create their "thing" here in the States as they had done in Sicily. The first of which was the city of New Orleans. Well known for being the first U.S. city with mass immigration from southern Europe, New Orleans was a goldmine for La Cosa Nostra with Pagonis 2 it's weak police force, prominent shipping ports and corrupt government. The two families vying for power were the Matranga's and Provenzanos, which was won by the Matrangas after the killing of police chief David Hennessy, who was being paid by the Provenzanos With Italian-Americans realizing the potential of a vulnerable country and implementing "this thing" in cities throughout the United States, most importantly New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Boston. New York, in particular, New York became the basis for the most impressive spreading of organized crime America had ever seen. In the early 1900s, a seemingly ambitious and strict police officer of Italian decent began his fight on organized crime in New York. Police officer Giuseppe (Joseph) Petrosino was a cavalier in the fight on La Cosa Nostra. Many of his techniques are still in use today. Petrosino was even in charge of personally protecting the ever popular Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso, to which the mafia had demanded a piece of his income, which he declined, and thus went to Petrosino. This became known as the "Caruso Letter." He also arrested the Don of New York (Don Vito Ferro) only to have him acquitted in court and return to Italy. In 1909, Petrosino was planning a top secret reconnaissance trip to Italy when he was lured into a trap by members allegedly belonging to Ferro's crew, and he was brutally shot in the piazza and thus killed. The roaring twenties brought the...

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