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History Project--Al Capone

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Anna Rose

on 16 February 2014

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Transcript of History Project--Al Capone

Al Capone was the most famous gangster of the 1920's, as well as one of the most famous gangsters ever. He was raised in a normal home, by a fairly normal family. His future as a gangster was not expected. Before he was born, his parents, Gabriele and Teresa Capone (a barber and a seamstress) immigrated from Italy. Born on January 17, 1899, Al Capone had nine brothers and sisters. He was raised in the borough of Brooklyn, in New York. At a young age he became involved in various street gangs, like the James Street Gang and the Junior Forty Thieves. Aside from his criminal activity, he worked at odd jobs, like a clerk at a candy store and at a bowling alley. Later he joined the Five Points Gang under the leadership of Johnny Torrio, and began working at the Harvard Inn for Frankie Yale, occasionally participating in illegal activity. When he was 19 Al Capone married Mae Coughlin, and they had one child. Capone quickly rose in the ranks of the Mafia, and when he was 21 he moved to Chicago to help out Johnny Torrio (his Five Points Gang mentor). There, he claimed a major role in bootlegging and the Chicago Underworld. He faced many problems and challenges as a gangster, ranging from losing money to attempts on his life. He was known to be merciless when facing a traitor.

Over the years Al Capone became known as one of the nation's most powerful mobsters. He rose from being a poor, occasional errand-runner for a big mob organization, to the leader of that same organization, in only a few years. By the time Capone was 26, Johnny Torrio had handed over the business to him. Capone was known to be a charming and easygoing man, the other side of his murderous personality. He was a doting father and husband, and was respected and thought of as a gentlemen. He made a great effort to keep his family safe and out of the way of his line of work. Al Capone made his fortune in the making and selling of alcohol. He ran a huge bootlegging industry and made his money through various illegal activities. Al Capone was also known as a ruthless killer, and he is said to have killed over a dozen people and ordered the deaths of hundreds more. He was a killer, and a loving father. A criminal, and a gentlemen. We may never know who Al Capone really was, know which of the many opposing personalities he displayed was the real man.
Alphonse (Al) Capone
Chicago Gangster of the 1920’s

January 17, 1899
Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Gabriel and Teresa Capone. He had nine brothers and sisters.
1902
Al Capone was kicked out of school when he was in sixth grade, after being hit by his teacher and retaliating by hitting her back.
1914
Al Capone became involved in the Five Points gang run by Johnny Torrio. During his employment as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn, Al Capone got into a fight in which he was slashed across the face by a razor, leaving him with the nickname "Scarface." Torrio leaves New York City a few years later for Chicago.
December 4, 1918
Al Capone's girlfriend, Mary (Mae) Josephine Coughlin gave birth to their son, Albert “Sonny” Francis.
December 30, 1918
Al Capone married Mae Coughlin, and she became Mae Capone. They remained married for the rest of Al Capone's life.
December 15, 1919
Capone moved to Chicago to escape arrest on a murder charge. There he joined forces again with Johnny Torrio. That same year the US ratified the 18th Amendment and Al Capone immediately became part of the bootlegging business.
1920
The leader of the gang Capone worked for was assassinated. Some suspected Capone and Yale had planned the murder in order to gain control over the bootlegging operation. Torrio took over. A sophisticated business man, Torrio turned the organization's bootlegging activities into a multi-million dollar operation with Capone's help.
1899-1947
Who was Al Capone?
November 8, 1924
Three of Capone's trained gunman walked into the flower shop owned by Dean O'Banion. Dean O'Banion was the leader of the North Side gang, in whose territory Al Capone wanted to start a bootlegging ring. One man shook O'Banion's hand while the other two shot him dead.
January 24, 1925
It was not long before O'Banion's gangsters struck back, ambushing Torrio. He was shot multiple times and only survived because the gun that George Moran held to his head jammed. He was in the hospital for a month after the incident, and when he got out, announced he would be leaving the Chicago Mafia. Twenty-six year-old Al Capone took his place.
1928
Eliot Ness was placed in charge of a Prohibition enforcement team dedicated to bringing down Al Capone. Ness and his team, who were known as the Untouchables, attempted to ruin Capon by performing regular raids on his speakeasies and alcohol manufacturing facilities. This caused Capone a few financial problems, but not enough to stop his business.
February 14, 1929

May 7, 1929
Al Capone threw a banquet for his three top gunman: Albert Anselmi, Joseph "Hop Toad" Giunta, and John Scalise. All three assassins attended, blind to the fact that that night would be their last. Capone had become aware that the three men were plotting against him, and he beat them all to death with a baseball bat in front of his other guests.
June, 1931
Al Capone was finally charged with income tax evasion as a result of Eliot Ness' work. They were never able to prove Capone was directly involved in any of the murders he planned. Though he attempted bribery, Al Capone could not find a way around prison. By the end of the trial, the jury had been replaced because Capone had bribed them all. He was convicted in October of the same year, and sentenced to 11 years of hard labor at two different prisons (Alcatraz being one of them).
November 19, 1939
Al Capone was released from prison. He suffered from paresis (a form of paralysis) of the brain. He retired to his mansion in Miami, Florida with Mae.
January 25, 1947
Al Capone died from natural causes at his Florida mansion. When he died a
New York Times
headline announced "End of an Evil Dream." Yet to some, Al Capone's involvement in selling liquor had been justified. He was loved and hated by the public, truly infamous.
Capone instructed Fred "Killer" Burke to organize an attack on George Moran, the successor to O'Banion. On St. Valentine's Day three gunman dressed as police officers entered the North Side flower shop, acting as though it was a routine raid. In the shop they encountered seven men, members of Moran's gang, who was a few blocks away having coffee in a diner. Thinking Albert Weinshank, a speakeasy operator who looked just like Moran, was the man they were after, the phony policemen signaled Burke and another hit man, who entered the shop and gunned all seven down. Meanwhile, down the street, the real Moran took another sip of coffee. This event came to be known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Al Capone had a major influence on the 1920's. Not only was he the cause of hundreds of gang murders (and the occasional innocent's death), but he practically owned the bootlegging business. He was the king of the Chicago Underworld. Capone managed to achieve working relationships with various hard-to-persuade politicians like Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson. Capone used these relationships to influence the results of multiple elections. He controlled many local elections throughout his career and changed the results to favor his candidate. He used weapons and violence to convince citizens to vote for his candidate, and if they refused, they were often beaten or killed. Capone went above and beyond other gangster bosses to get what he wanted. Capone's influence on elections may have literally changed the course of history. He created the world he wanted to live in, manipulating laws and people, making it easier for him to do what he wanted. He tried to mold Chicago into his city.

The 18th Amendment actually helped Capone and his business, providing new markets to sell in, and millions of customers to sell to. Capone influenced the American way of life during Prohibition, providing everyday American's with alcohol, and by doing this, Capone directly and boldly defied the U.S. government and their laws. He ran many, if not most, of the speakeasies that Chicagoans attended, raking in millions of dollars through the sale of alcohol. Al Capone was at the center of the big picture of the 1920's. The 1920's was a time for change and new rules. Caponewas behind amny changes in the American life and made his own rules. He was the figure of lawlessness, the perfect combination of criminal and gentlemen. He was bigger than life person, who captured the imagination and attention of ordinary Americans. He was a celebrity gangster, and they glamorized him and his lifestyle. He was part of a new era of highly sophisticated organized crime in the United States. He and his crime syndicate were a big part of the big picture of the 1920's, with his way of professionalizing the criminal life.

Al Capone, and bootleggers like him, helped to change the very way of life in the 1920's. By producing and selling alcohol, Capone ultimately helped bring about the end of Prohibition. Because of his actions, thousands of people were still able to drink, despite the laws. The 18th Amendment was ineffective, and the government came to realize this through the actions of Al Capone and other criminals. The new law had almost no effect on the citizens in the United States. In fact, it created a criminal underclass that just caused more problems. Prohibition created a whole new market for gangsters to make money. His business may have been a major cause of the repeal of Prohibition because it was one of the biggest bootlegging business in operation. He made 100 million dollars a year through the illegal sale of alcohol. Prohibition created his biggest money-making market. Even though it was not purposeful (he only participated in bootlegging for his own gain, he had no intention to get Prohibition repealed) Al Capone did influence the death of the 18th amendment, and changed America's history.
What were Al Capone's accomplishments?
Al Capone was a very accomplished person, at least in some people's eyes. Not only is he known as one of America's most dangerous gangsters, which is accomplishment in itself, but he ran one of the biggest illegal alcohol businesses. He ran one of the most famous and feared criminal organizations of all time. He made a huge profit on the bootlegging business, and was also known for his extreme wealth, and for a long time, his ability to escape the law. In his eyes, these legends and rumors about him would have been accomplishments, on their own. Being America's most feared gangster was something he was proud of. But, Al Capone wasn't all bad. In some ways, he helped America. He is the symbol of the collapse of Prohibition. His major accomplishments range from controlling the alcohol market and much of the law enforcement employed in Chicago, to forming one of the greatest crime syndicates of all time.

Although these accomplishments are not exactly of the legal variety, they were considered great accomplishments to Al Capone and his others. He managed to have most of Chicago under his thumb, and worked with gangsters and corrupt politicians to achieve his goals. He was able to avoid the law for most of his life, accomplishing things that would normally put a man in jail for the rest of his life. Al Capone was very smart, he was able to set up his organization so that he could never be blamed for the crimes that he, in truth, helped commit. He lasted many years without spending more than 6 months in jail, and it was only when he was convicted of income tax evasion that he actually spent serious time in prison. He was one of the most accomplished and wealthiest gangsters America has ever seen, and was practically untouchable, until his reign over Chicago finally ended with his 11 year prison sentence. He managed to never be convicted of any of the many murders he committed and ordered, which was a major accomplishment in his eyes. How he managed this, we might never know. Capone always had an airtight alibi for any murder he ordered. One of the few accomplishments that could be considered good was Al Capone's part in the repeal of Prohibition. Millions of Americans back then, and today as well, are glad alcohol is legal. To put it simply, they have Al Capone to thank. His actions involving bootlegging eventually forced the government to get rid of Prohibition. This was not intentional, Capone probably would have preferred Prohibition to continue because he made much of his profit off illegal alcohol. However, it was a major accomplishment, even if he did not consider it to be. Another accomplishment of Al Capone's, this one one of the most surprising seeing as he was a gangster, was his part in charity. He would occasionally tip a waiter $100 and had people in Cicero hand out coats to the needy when it got cold. He founded some of the first soup kitchens during the Great Depression as well. A charitable gangster, who knew?

The most significant thing Al Capone is credited with is the empire he built in Chicago off of illegal activity. He was the king of the underground crime world of Chicago, and everyone knew it. His legacy as a criminal mastermind will be remembered throughout history.
Al Capone in Context
By Anna Brinkhuis
Full transcript