Although the effects of the Depression had been gaining momentum since Black Tuesday, on October 29, 1929, and several smaller banks had already fallen, the collapse of the Bank of the United States kicked things up a notch or two. The Bank, at that time the third largest bank in New York City (and twenty-eighth in the United States), sent shockwaves through the economy after a run on its savings began at its Bronx branch on December 10, 1930.
The panic that led to the run on the bank caused it to fail when it did (although it quite possibly would have collapsed even without this, although not until months or even years later) – and the collapse of the bank led to runs on other banks, which led to more collapses. The Great Depression deepened after 1930, and in many countries, did not end until the wartime economies of World War Two changed the playing field again.
It was a serious business: there were pressing legal, moral, theological and political reasons why the King of England could not marry an American divorcee. But such was King Edward VII’s love for Wallis Simpson that he was prepared to ignore all those things. The heart wants what the heart wants.
But ignore them he could not: as King, he was head of the Church of England, which at that time forbade the marriage of divorced people. Moreover, many citizens of the nations of the British Empire – Britain not least among them – did not want a twice-divorced American as their Queen. The establishment in England tended to view Wallis Simpson as little more than a gold digger.
Edward remained stubborn, and on the 10th of December, 1936, he announced his abdication from the throne (although under law, it was not legally binding until Parliament ratified it). Edward’s brother became the next king, George VI, and Edward was created the Duke of Windsor, and upon their marriage, Wallis Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor.
Written either by Don Watson (Keating’s cheif speechwriter) or Keating himself – the two disagree on this point – there is no doubting that the Redfern Speech of 1992 was one of the most significant events of Paul Keating’s term as Prime Minister of Australia. In it, Keating as head of state of Australia, for the first time acknowledged the responsibility of European invaders for the injustices committed – both in the past and ongoign – against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
It fell a ways short of being an apology – that would come later – but it was a stunning statement of responsibility for a nation that has usually preferred (as the speech itself pointed out) to blame the native victims of these injustices for causing them.
Links to the text of the speech, plus sound and video recordings of it, can be found here.