United States History II- CP
8 May 1999
Al Capone in the 1920s
Organized crime was not so organized up until the 1920s. When the 1920s arrived, the American lifestyle changed dramatically. People started investing money in home appliances and automobiles, womens skirts became higher and drinking became very popular. Also, organized crime came to a rise in the 1920s. And in the high ranks of organized crime was Al Capone. Al Capone ran many illegal businesses including bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, and murders. There were many gangs in the world of organized crime and Al Capones was at the top. Al Capone was the most infamous gangster in the 1920s.
Being a big time gangster was big business. Money was made fast and very easily. Bootlegging alcohol was by far the most profitable in the 1920s, this was because of the prohibition. Gambling was another business that paid off. Gambling stations were set up all over cities. Prostitution and Murders were also crimes that made gangsters money.
Alphonse Capone was the biggest force in organized crime. He started his career of crime in Boston, as an apprentice to Johnny Torrio. That is where he earned the unforgettable nickname Scarface. It was in a bar when Capone made some rude comments about a woman. Minutes later, the womans brother sliced Capone in the face.
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This man was a friend of Charles Lucky Luciano. Al Capone was punished and forced to apologize. Al Capone did not become a leader until he went to Chicago. At the time he was still an apprentice to Johnny Torrio.
In the midst of the gang violence and bootlegging was Chicago. Chicago was a great place to start a ring of organized crime. The government was very weak which made it easier to do crime. Capone entered the city of Chicago in 1920. At the time, Big Jim Colosimo ran things. He made about 50,000 dollars a month. Torrio and Capone started their business with four gambling joints/whore houses in Chicago. These underground places were known as deuces. In Chicago Capone met a man who would be his friend for life, Jack Guzik. Guzik was Jewish. His family lived off prostitution. Al Capone never worried about racial issues, his wife was even Irish. After Jack Guzick was roughed up by a Joe Howard, Capone let out his temper. It did not help when Howard called Capone some rude names. Soon after, Capone shot him down. There was no conviction, it was clear that Capone was becoming more and more powerful. He had to have connections in the law to not be convicted.
Al Capone finally got a taste of leadership after a few years of partnership with Torrio. Torrio left Capone in control of their areas to take his sick mother back to Italy. Capone was at the top of a Chicago suburb known as Cicero. At the age of 25, Capone was one of the most powerful men in Chicago, but being such a force also made him a target for rival gangs.
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In New York, Arnold Rothstein was the man. He was a bootlegger, he also sold narcotics, and he started off many big names in crime such as Charles Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Dutch Shultz. Rothstein made friends with as many bootleggers and gamblers as he could. He never wanted anything to go wrong. He was sort of paranoid but Rothstein was a very powerful man. The most incredible act ever made by a thug just may have been the fixing of the 1919 World Series between the Reds and the White Sox. Many of the White Sox star players wanted higher wages, owners of the club refused. But Rothstien changed that. It was said that he paid off eight of the White Sox players 10,000 dollars each. The Reds would have lost but with a little help from Rothstein the White Sox did lose and Rothstein got back all of his money winning bets.
Charles Lucky Luciano was another one of the most successful gangsters during the 1920s. His place of crime was New York. Luciano started under a man named Maranzano as Capone started under Johnny Torrio. Luciano was one of Maranzanos top men. After being under him, Charles Luciano became tired of it, he wanted more power, and the only way he could do that was to kill Maranzano. He organized a meeting with several top gangsters including one of Capones representatives. They discussed the elimination of Maranzano. Lucianos plan to murder him was approved. When Lucky returned to New York he gunned down Maranzano and took over his businesses.
In Chicago, Capone was stronger than ever. He was the most feared man in Chicago, but he didnt earn it bootlegging, pimping, or gambling. Al Capone had to kill
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men that got in his way.That is how Al Capone became the most powerful gangster ever.
One of Al Capones rivals was the gardener Dion OBanion. Dion was a rival bootlegger whom behavior had to be controlled. He killed men whenever and wherever he wanted. OBanion even went as far as tricking Torrio which sent him to jail. Something he did wrong was bragging about it. Days later, OBanion was taken out by Three of Capones men in his own flower shop. Capone and Torrio then took over the excellent bootlegging business that was Dions.
After the Murder of Dion OBanion, Al Capone and Johnny torrio began to fear for their lives. OBanions gang did not give up, at one point they struck in mid daylight. Capones headquarters was the Hawthorne Hotel, the plan was precise. There were two cars packed with thugs, the first car drove by shooting blank rounds to draw out Capones men, the next car was to spray the hotel lobby and other surrounding buildings with thousands of bullets. The plan did not work, Capone survived and so did many others, the deaths suprisingly scarce. Since 2 years after Obannons murder, 12 attempts to assassinate Capone were made. And when Torrio returned, he was almost shot to death.
The man who had been giving Capone the most trouble was George bugs Moran. Moran Took over Obanions gang after the murder of Dion. Capone planned an assassination for Moran. To keep himself out of trouble, Capone laid back in Florida and left Machine gun Mcgurn in charge of the hit. On February 14, 1929, two of Capone’s men including Mcgurn entered a garage where Moran and some of his guys were said to
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be located, The team was dressed in police uniforms and armed with machine guns and sawed off shotguns. They shot down 7 of Moran’s men but Moran was never there. The police and all the people of Chicago all knew the murders were ordered by Capone.
But with no evidence, Capone could not be arrested. The St. Valentines Day Massacres publicity was the most any gang event had ever received.
Of all the murders, the cause of many may lie in the hands of the prohibition act. The act started on January 16, 1920. It stated that liqueur that is a beverage can not be manufactured, nor sold, nor be hauled on the face of the earth, but there were many people against this, a lot of those people were gangsters and other thugs. But they didnt just talk about it, many men became bootleggers and racketeerers. The profits made by this were enormous. Bootlegging led to a tremendous rivalry between a lot of gangs.
Al Capone was in constant danger because he was one of the top bootleggers. Richard peg leg Lonergan was one of Al Capones rival bootleggers. Al Capone was invited to Frankie Yales 1925 Christmas party. Yale was tipped off that Lonergan and some of his boys were going to crash the party. The party was going to be canceled but Capone refused. The party happened and Lonergan and his boys showed up around 3:00, Capone had a surprise of his own. When Capone gave the signal peg leg didnt know what to expect. The thing is, Yales Christmas party was held in New York, and by murdering these men Capone was showing his superiority. As Alva Johnston said in the New Yorker
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Chicago is the imperial city of the gang world and New York a remote provincial place. The incident was known as The Adonis club massacre. Prohibition may have caused the highest crime rate ever in organized crime.
Frankie yale was a longtime friend of Al Capone and Johnny Torrio. He was used in various hits including the murders of Dion Obanion and Big Jim Colosimo. In 1928 Capone found out that Yale had been hijacking many of his booze trucks. Soon after, Yale was shot down.
No other single gangster could be as infamous as Al Capone. Al Capone was the most powerful gangster to ever live. No one could stop his reign of crime, and anyone that got in his way, he would take out, Even when it came to his friends. He was never convicted for any of the hundreds of crimes he committed, this is one of the most important facts that showed how many connections Capone had. It was until the 1930s when Capone was convicted of Tax invasion. While serving his jail time Alphonse Capone became a victim of the deadly disease Syphilis. Al Capone died but his crime legacy will always live on.