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Al Capone

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Essay title: Al Capone

Al Capone

“When I sell liquor, they call it bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, they call it hospitality.”-Al Capone [Woog, 25]

Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters during the 1920’s. He was a self-made business man. He had a ready smile and a quick handshake, which if you did not play your cards right, could turn out to be fatal. It took 500 gangland murders to make Capone the boss of Chicago. He was public enemy number one. Capone single handedly gave Chicago the nickname “The Lawless City.”

Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 17, 1899. He grew up in a very rough neighborhood and became a part of two gangs during this time. He was a very bright kid, yet he quit school in the sixth grade at age fourteen. He worked several jobs, such as a clerk at a candy store and a pin boy at a bowling alley, in between scams.

After a while he became part of the well known Five Points gang and worked for the fellow gangsters. While he was working one night as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn, he insulted a patron and her brother attacked Capone leaving him with his infamous facial scars which later gave him his nickname “Scarface.”

In 1918, Capone met a girl named Mary Coughlin who gave birth to their son Albert "Sonny" Francis. Coughlin and Capone married later that year.

He was first arrested on a disorderly conduct charge while working for fellow gangster Frankie Yale. At this time he also murdered two men to prove his willingness to kill, but he was not tried because of the gangland etiquette of “silence.” Capone was let off of all charges due to lack of proof. After Capone hospitalized a rival gang member, Yale sent him to Chicago until things blew over. He arrived there in 1919.

When Capone settled into Chicago, Yale sent him to work for his old mentor, John Torrio. Once Torrio realized Capone’s potential, he took him under his wing and let Capone become his partner in the bootlegging business. By 1922, Capone was Torrio’s number two man and was his partner in everything. Torrio was shot by rival gang members and forced to leave Chicago, so naturally Capone made himself boss. Capone was well liked and trusted by his men and soon called “The Big Fellow.” He quickly proved that he was much better at running the show than Torrio when he was reported to be bringing in a $100,000,000 income each year. He had everything to do with anything that involved gambling, sex, or alcohol.

Once Capone had everything he wanted in Chicago, he realized he was highly disliked by the whole country because he began to hear comments on the street and in the newspapers. Although he often did business with Capone, the mayor William “Big Bull” Hale Thompson, wanted Capone out of Chicago because Capone was bad for Thompson’s political image. So the mayor hired a new police chief to run Capone out of the city, and he personally saw Capone out of the city. Capone looked all over for a new location and he decided to move to an estate in Palm Island, Florida in 1928.

Once Capone was out of the city, attempts on Capone’s life were becoming regular but he had connections with newspapers and policemen so he quickly found out about the plots. He, on the other hand, was very discrete and clever about his murders. He would always have an alibi, because he himself would rarely do the murdering.

His most notorious murder was the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. On February 14, 1928, four of Capone’s men entered a garage of the Main Liquor warehouse for bootlegger George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side Gang. When the men entered the garage two of Capone’s men were dressed as police officers and therefore the North Side Gang dropped their weapons. When they did Capone’s gang murdered them with two shotguns and two machine guns, putting over 150 bullets into the men. As usual after the massacre, Capone had an alibi; he was in Florida the day of the murder.

Although Capone was behind numerous deaths and even killed with his own hands, he treated people fairly and was very generous. He became known for being violent but also loyal and honest towards fellow citizens. He was actually one of the first people to open soup kitchens after the 1929 stock market crash. He also had the merchants give the needy food and clothes at his expense.

Capone was never tried for most of his crimes. He was arrested in 1926 for murdering three people, but only spent one night in jail due to lack of evidence. He first served time in prison in 1929 for carrying a gun.

In 1931 Capone was indicted for income tax evasion for the years 1925-1929. He was also charged with misdemeanor of failing to file tax returns for the years 1928 and 1929. The government said that Capone owed around $215,000 in taxes from

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