History Of The American Mafia Essay

2015 words - 8 pages

History of the American Mafia

Imagine living in a world where crime ruled. A world where gangsters were more powerful than politicians, owned the police, and ran the city in whatever way they felt. They robbed whom they wanted and killed when they didn't get their way. Now stop imagining and realize that this happened here in the United States of America in the 1920's. It was run by an organization made up mainly of Italians called the Mafia.
The word Mafia itself has many meanings. In Arabic it means "refuge", which refers to the origins of the Mafia as a society that fled to the hills of Italy to avoid attack. Some Italians hold it as a word of high respect implying strength, courage, agility, quickness, endurance, and intelligence (Brief History 2). This is why being a member of the Mafia is such an honor to its members. Another meaning of the word refers to the Mafia's origins as an acronym in Italian, Morte Alla Franciese Italia Annela. This translates to "Death to French is Italy's Cry" in reference to Italian's distaste for the French during their invasions in the 1800's.
The Mafia originated in Sicily as a secret society to unite Sicilian natives against invasions by France and Arabs in the late 1800's. These Mafia members led a revolt against the French and Arabs and gained power over time. As time progressed, the Mafia controlled the government, banks, and police activity and turned to crime for profit. A Mafia-run Sicily prospered until the rise of Benito Mussolini. As an advocate of socialism, he began to crack down on Mafia activity in Italy (Brief History 2). This forced many of the prominent mob bosses to flee America where they would prosper for a decade and a half.
As complicated as it might be, the Mafia revolves around one basic principle called Omerta. Omerta is an oath in which every official member of the Mafia must be sworn in under. This code states that all family-based activities are above all domestic family matters in the home, it enforces silence, a strike upon another member is like a strike on the boss himself. Violating any of these laws is punishable by death with no trial or remorse (Whizkid01 3). This one value is what kept Mafia families powerful and prosperous.
As the Mafia grew in America, they prospered off illegal gambling and prostitution. It wasn't until 1919 with the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that the Mafia really gained power. The 18th amendment banned the distribution and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages in America (Prohibition 2). Although this amendment meant nothing but good, it did the exact opposite to America. While politicians saw an improved nation with this amendment, criminals saw green. Americans now thought drinking as a thrill, it was something illegal that they can do but get away with. It was the rush of getting away with it that made speakeasies so popular. Speakeasies were Mafia-run entertainment clubs,...

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