Home » 10th Season (2022-2023) » 2022-2023 v.03

Category Archives: 2022-2023 v.03

The Old Firm Derby: How History Shapes Soccer and Society in Glasgow

By Alden Mehta

The Old Firm Derby: How History Shapes Soccer and Society in Glasgow

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

In 1999, two rival soccer teams, Celtic FC and Rangers FC, went head to head in the Scottish Cup Final. Many of the local Glaswegians, unable to attend the game in person, gathered in pubs with their team’s fellow supporters to drink and watch the match. It was more than a game to many of them; they hated their opposition and that hatred ran deep. Rangers won the game 1-0, taking home the trophy. After a crushing defeat, sixteen-year-old Celtic supporter, Thomas McFadden, left the Life of Reilly’s pub. Heartbroken though he was, deep down he knew that life would go on. He was young and had a lifetime ahead of him to watch his team play. However, life did not go on for Thomas McFadden. Minutes later, he was murdered. On his way home after the game, Thomas encountered a heavily intoxicated Rangers supporter named David Hutton. It was not long after the final whistle. The emotions were still fresh. The two opposing fans confronted one another. Getting in each others’ faces, they chanted rival soccer songs. Before long, the confrontation escalated, and David Hutton stabbed Thomas four times in critical areas. In his final moments, Thomas was “staggering about with blood over his Celtic top.” As he bled to death, he sang a traditional Celtic song, faithfully representing his team until the very end. 

I came to learn that while horrifying, this incident was not unexpected. Glasgow’s complex history has created the conditions for the sport of soccer to turn into something that resembles tribal warfare. In many parts of the world, soccer is considered to be more than just a game, but this claim is arguably most evident in Glasgow, Scotland, home of the Old Firm derby between Celtic FC and Rangers FC. The rivalry is referred to as a derby because both teams are from the same city. For decades, these two Glaswegian teams have dominated Scottish soccer. The name of the rivalry, the Old Firm, was supposedly coined in the late 1800s in recognition of the commercial benefits of the two teams’ encounters on the field. Many soccer enthusiasts, ex-professionals, and coaches deem the Old Firm to be the most heated sports rivalry in the world. Celtic legend Henrik Larsson played in both the Old Firm derby and the notorious El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The El Clasico is by far the fiercest rivalry in Spain, and yet Larsson says, “Nothing compares to Celtic playing Rangers, absolutely nothing … You can talk about Barca against their old rivals from Madrid, but believe me, it’s not even close.” The Old Firm polarizes the two sides, produces a vicious hatred, and frequently spills over into violence.

I’ve grown up heavily involved in the sport of soccer, so much so that I feel it occupies a certain portion of who I am. In my experience, it has always brought people together. Whether through my experiences playing soccer or through watching events like the World Cup, I’ve seen the sport unite people across cultural, ethnic, and language differences. I’ve witnessed the mutual respect that results from the game. To me, “the beautiful game,” as soccer is often called, was and still is an apt description. Therefore, when I discovered that for nearly a century and a half soccer has fostered division in Glasgow, I sought to discover why.


Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s Cautionary Tale

By Arjun Yerabothu

Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s Cautionary Tale

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Student-Submitted Note: My paper examined the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare and how he uses Julius Caesar to comment on the political instability of England in the late 16th century. I also looked at how subsequent productions used the play to comment on the political issues of their respective times.

Caesar salad. Little Caesars. The Julian Calendar. Caesars Palace. Cesarean sections. 

No name in history has carried the influence “Julius Caesar” has. The name “Caesar” has a rich and storied legacy anchored mainly in the Roman Empire. However, it is also strongly felt in many contemporary cultures around the globe. Over the decades, it has been used to define not only the families of rulers, but also a variety of titles and references in literature, trade, and even food. It has come to symbolize not only a powerful ruler but also an ideal of leadership and influence. The term “Caesar” has crossed geographic boundaries and taken on a wide range of cultural applications.

Gaius Julius Caesar has been widely respected and scorned throughout history. Sometimes and in some places Caesar is revered as a hero. In other times and places, he has been viewed as a dictator. Additionally, the name “Caesar” itself refers to Julius Caesar and his legacy in some places, while serving as a synonym for “emperor” in others. Whatever the meaning, the name is widely recognized throughout the world. 

Due in significant part to the Roman Empire’s growth and its influence on so many languages, many words have Latin roots. Some examples of  “Caesar” meaning “emperor” in different languages are Csere in  Old English and Keiser in Middle English. The German and Austrian emperors held the title of Kaiser through the conclusion of World War I. The name “Caesar” also influenced Slavic languages, where rulers acquired the titles “Czar” or “Tsar.” Russian Emperor Ivan the Terrible first used the title in 1547. 


A Convenient Misremembrance: Hong Kong’s Colonial Legacy

By Mandy Hui

A Convenient Misremembrance: Hong Kong’s Colonial Legacy

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Is Hong Kong a part of China? The answer to that question depends upon whom you ask.

In 1842, Britain occupied the small island of Hong Kong. The colonial empire maintained political control for a century and a half, eventually returning the city to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. During the transfer of power, the PRC declared Hong Kong a special administrative region. This unique status permitted the city to operate separate legal and economic systems from those in mainland China, a principle embodied in the slogan “one country, two systems.” The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping developed this idea during the 1980s in anticipation of Hong Kong’s reunification with China. The concept not only preserved Hong Kong’s capitalist system, it also granted the city a high-degree of autonomy until 2047. The agreement promised Hong Kong residents freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, all of which are not guaranteed in the mainland.

In recent years, many Hong Kong residents have prided themselves on their city’s civil liberties, in distinction from the more strict rule on the mainland. However, China began gradually limiting Hong Kong’s freedoms in many different ways, such as abducting Hong Kongers who sold books criticizing the PRC in the early 2010s. China’s repeated threats to strip Hong Kong of its autonomy have been met with mass demonstrations; thousands of pro-democracy residents rallied in the streets of Hong Kong, protesting the PRC’s infringement on the “one country, two systems” policy it had promised to retain for 50 years. 

Growing up in Hong Kong, I witnessed protestors block familiar roads and businesses to force China’s authoritarian government to concede in its attempts to end Hong Kong’s democratic system. I have seen thousands symbolically use umbrellas and black clothing as a cry for freedom and democracy. For most of my life, my friends and I were too young to formulate our own informed opinions regarding these protests, but the events of 2019 and 2020 changed my perspective on what was unfolding before me.

In the midst of the 2019 protests, I had a conversation over lunch with one of my close friends about Hong Kong’s political crisis. I was conscious of my friend’s impassioned beliefs on the matter. Due to the topic’s sensitive nature, we decided to eat at a “yellow restaurant,” a title given to restaurants owned by pro-democracy supporters. I asked her about her thoughts. She described tension among her family members about China’s restrictions. She wanted to take part in the pro-democracy protests, however, her parents threatened to disown her if she associated herself with the demonstrators. At the end of her soliloquy, she let out a sigh and muttered, “I wish Hong Kong was a British colony again.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard pro-democracy supporters reminisce about the city’s colonial era. The week before, thousands of demonstrators gathered to sing the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” and hundreds waved Union Jacks as a sign of resistance against the PRC. I was confused. Why do many Hong Kong citizens look favorably on British colonial rule but bravely resist PRC’s control? How can the British Union Jack, the flag of Hong Kong’s former colonizer, be used as a symbol of democracy?


Landmark Redistricting Cases in the Supreme Court and their Influence on U.S. Electoral Equality

By Steven Yang

Landmark Redistricting Cases in the Supreme Court and their Influence on U.S. Electoral Equality

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Student-Submitted Note: This paper was completed as part of the VI Form History Fellowship class, and focuses on the history of the Supreme Court’s involvement in redistricting, the process by which areas are broken up into political districts for each representative to serve. It starts with a summary of the parts of the Constitution pertinent to understand the topic, then chronologically understands the history of redistricting in the context of Supreme Court cases.

The Constitution of the United States begins with “We the People,” a famous phrase expressing the democratic principles of equality and power derived from the people; yet, there lies a dissonance between these principles and contemporary American politics, particularly within elections. Electoral laws can greatly influence results; controversial practices like strict voter ID laws and eliminating the ability to vote early or use mail-in ballots can lower voter turnout and heavily sway elections. One of the most egregious examples of these democratic principles, however, is called gerrymandering. Because state legislatures are tasked by the Constitution to draw districts elected officials represent, politicians can “entrench” themselves in office by drawing maps favorable to them. The process of drawing these districts on a decennial basis is known as redistricting, and redistricting that is aimed to benefit a certain group of people is called gerrymandering. While the most common form of modern gerrymandering is partisan gerrymandering, where politicians draw maps to benefit their party, other types of gerrymandering like racial gerrymandering have occurred in the past.3 At its worst, gerrymandering can be the equivalent of rigging elections. An antithesis to the core democratic principles the United States was built upon, gerrymandering is a flagrant violation of democracy so widespread that it has become synonymous with American life. 

Legal challenges to unfair redistricting began in the 1940s, and redistricting has been a routine issue for the court to address up to the modern day. Many cases escalated to the Supreme Court, whose rulings on redistricting can have momentous effects. Early cases through the 1960s largely focused on malapportionment, a form of unfair redistricting where some voter’s voices are diluted because they live in political districts that were much larger in population than others. The court was generally willing to impose more requirements of redistricted maps to ensure equality, like mandating political districts must be roughly the same population. The 1980s to 2000s saw the court rule on other types of unfair redistricting, notably racial and partisan gerrymandering. However, when encountering questions of partisan gerrymandering, partisan bias of the court became increasingly evident. Combined with increased political polarization, the makeup of the consistently conservative courts during at the turn of the 21st century quickly became overwhelmingly partisan, favoring the Republicans who appointed justices in their roles. This represented a drastic departure from precedent and from democratic values as a whole. The court’s decisions are monumental, and by essentially deregulating partisan gerrymandering in recent cases, gerrymandering has become even more widespread than before. 

This paper explores the history of redistricting and gerrymandering chronologically, starting with clauses and amendments within the U.S. Constitution that are vital to understanding the abundant litigation that occurred later. Next, it examines the United States’ approach to solving the issue of apportionment; a closely related issue to redistricting that determines how many Congressional representatives each state receives. Finally, the history of apportionment is contrasted with redistricting, answering the question: why can’t a similar solution be found for redistricting?


How Unions Struggle: The 1913-1914 Copper Strike in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan 

By Avery King

How Unions Struggle: The 1913-1914 Copper Strike in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan 

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Student-Submitted Note: This is my History Research Fellowship paper. I took the fall semester to research the Michigan Copper Strike of 1913-1914.

The small piece of copper my grandmother kept in her kitchen fascinated me as a child. When she saw me staring at its glowing hues masked by green verdigris, she would smile, explaining that it was shaped like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My dad’s side of the family immigrated to the Upper Peninsula from Finland in the 1880s. I was enthralled by stories about my great-grandfather, who worked for General Motors, and his dad, my great-great-grandfather, who worked in the copper mines. It was only when I got older, however, that I began to realize how important her stories about the copper mines are, not only for my family but for organized labor everywhere. 

My great-great-grandfather on the paternal side of my family was a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a prominent mining union that operated in both the Colorado Coal Mines and the Michigan Copper Mines. On the night of Christmas Eve, 1913, my great-great-grandmother, Ida K. Putansu, took her six children (including my great-grandfather Richard Putansu, who was seven years old at the time) to a Christmas Party at Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan. Italian Hall was a public meeting place and, this night, its second floor was the site of a Union supported Christmas celebration. This meant that one had to show proof of membership in the union or have another union member vouch for them to enter the hall. The party was a nice diversion for the union members, who had been involved in a bitter strike, and their families. The crowded party was full of laughter and celebration until an unknown person shouted, “Fire!” The ensuing chaos left seventy-three people dead. 

My family survived because of my great-great grandmother’s practicality. Instead of rushing into the mass of crushed bodies on the staircase, Ida kept her children upstairs in a corner. My Grandma claims that Ida said that she would “rather burn alive than get trampled to death.” The Italian Hall Massacre gained national attention because the large death toll made Americans aware of the strike. In the early twentieth century, unions allowed miners who worked in dangerous conditions the opportunity to gain power through collective bargaining. Although the wealthy mining companies tended to abuse their power, unions acted as a resource for laborers and fought hard to prevent the hierarchical abuse that existed in this capitalistic labor system. Learning about this incident made me wonder more about the copper strike and how unions operated. Why was there so much conflict between unions and the companies? Why did workers join unions? Did doing so have any impact on their working conditions?