David R. Wade

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The Special Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce began its work on May 10, 1950 and concluded with the submission of its final report on May 1, 1951. The function of the Committee was to fully study the extent to which organized crime makes use of the facilities of interstate commerce. Following hearings held in 14 cities and testimony from more than 600 witnesses, the Committee concluded that a sinister conspiracy of foreign origin controls organized crime. The Committee's hearings were the first Congressional Committee hearings televised live to a national audience. This Article examines the influence of nativism in the Committee's investigation, conclusions and recommendations. The Article starts by examining nativism as a sociological concept by tracing its notable historical significance in American culture. It then explores nativism as informing competing theories of organized crime aiding and abetting an acceptance of a foreign conspiracy model over a model emphasizing organized crime as a homegrown response to indigenous social and economic conditions. Lastly, the Article examines the influence of nativism in the Committee's investigative hearings, in their recommendations and in their use of television to incite nativist urges and spread nativist sentiment.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

David R. Wade, The Conclusion That a Sinister Conspiracy of Foreign Origin Controls Organized Crime: The Influence of Nativism in the Kefauver Committee Investigation, 16 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 371 (1996).

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