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Organized Crime during the 1920s

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Jacob Black

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Organized Crime during the 1920s

Bootlegging Organized Crime & Bootlegging in the 1920's Organized Crime Corruption "Bugs" Moran Bootlegging began with the 18th Amendment, established on January 17, 1920, it banned the sell, transportation, and manufacturing of alcohol. However, even with alcohol banned the demand for illegal "booze" was still high. In a situation of irony, the 18th Amendment increased drinking in the United States. Those who once sold alcohol for a living became bootleggers and began selling it illegally. The beginning of bootlegging A tidal wave of organized crime would sweep across the nation as large gangs would begin to enter the business of bootlegging. It was bootlegging that helped build the establishment of organized crime. With prohibition in affect it would allow profitable situations for those of organized crime to takeover the bootlegging, manufacturing, and distribution of alcohol. Bootlegging allowed those involved in organized crime to not only takeover the alcohol business but to also start taking over the crime industry altogether. Organized Crime & Bootlegging The Politics of Bootlegging The 18th Amendment created what was known as the "Noble Experiment". This was a sad and failed attempt by the government to stop drinking in America. The experiment was a failure, it only made those involved in organized crime even more wealthy as people wanted illegal booze and they were there to supply it. The forces of the temperance groups, and religious organizations forced the U.S. Senate to propose a prohibition act. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed it but the prohibition act passed. The government couldn't really enforce prohibition and by 1925, there were over 50,000 speakeasies which were essentially illegal bars that required a password to enter. Famous Bootleggers Al Capone - Perhaps, arguably the most notorious of bootleggers, he made most of his money on bootlegging, prostitution, and other illegal activities. Al built a bootlegging empire and got rid of anyone who got to close to threatening his money.
William McCoy - Prohibitions most famous rum runner. Mr. McCoy was considered an "honest lawbreaker", he never paid for protection or paid any politician or member of organized crime. McCoy was a captain on the seas who was known for selling clean, uncut alcohol.
Jay Gatsby - Jay Gatsby is a fictional character in F.Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby", however he does portray the lifestyle achieved by successful bootleggers during Prohibition. The Rise of Organized Crime The 1920's were a prosperous time for most of America, people had money to spend and their happy songs to sing. However, prohibition had banned alcohol, and there were many who were looking to change that immediately. This was the rise of organized crime in America. The Start of an Era With alcohol now illegal, many people still wanted to drink but didn't didn't want to do the time for it. So, groups of people would start small gangs to smuggle alcohol into cities, these gangs would go on to become the first groups of organized crime.
With crime now increasing , so would things like police funding, in fact funding increased by 11.4 million dollars. Arrest for prohibition violations also increased by 102%. Arrest for drunk drivers increased by 81% as well.
Homicides, assaults and battery increased by 13% and federal convicts would increase by 561%. The federal prison population increased by 366% and the expenditures on the penal institutions increased by 1000%. Political Corruption The reason a lot of mobsters and gangsters were successful was because they had connections in high places. A prime example of this is Enoch L. Johnson, a political boss and a Republican political machine of Atlantic City, New Jersey and he controlled the majority of the Atlantic County government.
Mr. Johnson was a prominent figure of early bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. In fact in 1929 Mr. Johnson held a convention that included many of the era's most notorious organized crime leaders, including the likes of Al Capone. Notorious Crime Bosses John "The Fox" Torrio - Was an infamous crime boss who mentored the likes of Al Capone. Torrio was one of the first to start bootlegging, however in order to do so he ended up killing a major boss name Big Jim Colismo. After an assassination attempt, Tori quit the crime life and handed the business over to his protege Al Capone. He would die of a heart attack while in a barbershop in Brooklyn.

Al Capone - Was a very well known crime boss who became the face of the mid to late 1920's gangster era and is one of the most well known gangsters in American history. Mr. Capone was born in New York and started out in the crime business early, he was expelled form school at 14 and proceeded to drop out. Capone would join John Torrio's gang and become his protege and successor. Around 1920, Capone joined Torrio's Chicago gang and Torrio aided Capone in the bootlegging business. Capone would gain leadership over Torrio's gang and his reputation would grow as enemy gangs were eliminated.

On February 14, 1929 members of a rival gang were gunned down in what is widely known as the climax of violence in Chicago at the time. In the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, 7 members of the "Bugs" Moran mob were gunned down by rivals posed as policemen. Al Capone was in Florida while all of this occurred but credit is normally given to him for the massacre. This would gain Mr. Capone national attention which also brought his downfall as the government was being pushed to crack down on Capone and his criminal activities. Mr. Capone would go on the be arrested for tax evasion charges and would die of health problems in jail. Notorious Crime Bosses and the slow death of organized crime Quiz I
How many speakeasies were there by 1925?

When was the 18th Amendment established?

How did organized crime began?

Who did mobsters and gangsters have on their side that made them so successful?

Why did organized crime take a turn for the worse at the end of the 20's?

The beginning of the end Following the demise of Al Capone, other gangs around the country would also begin to fall as the stock market would crash in 1929 and the 18th Amendment would be repealed in 1933, the object that gave the true birth to organized crime, bringing a slow death to much of organized crime around the country. Sure, there would always be gangs and criminals but by the mid 30's much of the old gangs would have ended as the Great Depression truly began to set in.
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