By: Jackson Spriet
Alphonse Gabriel Capone (also known as “Scarface”) was a successful Italian-American gangster who obtained fame during the Prohibition Era. Capone was a big part of organized crime in Chicago and was the leader in the Italian Mafia. However, this would all change for Capone when he was arrested in 1931.
Al Capone’s father Gabriel Capone left Naples, Italy and arrived in New York in 1894 alongside many other poor Italian immigrants, but the Capones were different many other families. His family was highly educated and had a respectable amount of money. After they arrived in New York, Gabriel, Teresa and their two sons Vincenzo and Rafaelle moved into a small Brooklyn house which eventually led to the birth of Alphonse Capone on January 17, 1899. The neighborhood where Al grew up was a violent and chaotic slum which really had an impact on him and eventually led him to joining the Mafia. His childhood was equally rough, as his grades were poor and he was expelled at the age of 14 for assaulting a female teacher. After this incident occurred Capone never returned to school and he befriended a notorious gangster named Johnny Torrio. Johnny had a big impact on Capone and taught him how to run a business in organized crime while maintaining respect from others. Capone later joined Torrio’s “Five Point Gang” at the age of 17. Capone earned the nickname “Scarface” after he got into a knife fight with a rival gang member who cut Capone in the neck.
During the Prohibition Era many gangsters and criminals in New York developed new bootlegging and smuggling techniques that delivered large amounts of cash. This attracted Torrio to move from New York to Chicago where he asked Capone to assist him in 1919. But little did Capone know that the reason he was invited to Chicago was to assassinate Torrio’s boss, giving Torrio power as he was next in line in the family. Torrio’s success continued and he would remain in power until 1925, when he decided to retire from organized crime. After his retirement Capone stepped in and became one of the most feared gangsters of Chicago, controlling organized crime, gambling and bootlegging operations. Capone was a vicious killer who liked to expand his territory throughout the city of Chicago and he was not shy in killing other gang members to get the job done. Capone was also known for having the most loyal and dedicated gang in America. He had two bodyguards with him at all times and often travelled at night to keep a low profile and to avoid conflict with other gangs and the authorities. Capone’s career as a gangster and in organized crime would slow down when he married Mae Josephine Coughlin, an Irish Catholic who gave birth to their first son Albert “Sonny” Capone a month earlier.
The St. Valentines Day Massacre on February 14, 1929 was a big turning point for Al Capone’s in his career in the Mafia. Capone’s rival gang “The North Siders” were tricked into coming to a garage just outside of Chicago in order to obtain some alcohol (which was illegal at the time). After they arrived at the garage, Jack McGurn (A friend of Al Capone) and his gang arrived dressed as policemen and told The North Siders to line up against the wall, before opening machine gun fire, killing all seven men. Capone was in Florida at the time, but local witnesses and police knew that Capone had staged the massacre. After the incident United States President Herbert Hoover stated that he wanted Capone in jail immediately and that he wanted Capone’s slaughter fest to end. Later that month, Capone attended a “gangster” conference in Atlanta. On his trip back he was nabbed in a Philadelphia local movie theatre for carrying a concealed weapon. Capone was imprisoned in 1929 for the offence but released a year later for good behaviour. After he was released several FBI agents posed as gangsters and went undercover to try and infiltrate Capone’s...
References: Bradsley, Marilyn. Al Capone: Chicago 's Most Infamous Mob Boss. 22 January 2015. .
Chicago History Museum. Al Capone. 22 January 2014. 2015. .
Rosenburg, Jennifer. Al Capone. 22 January 2015. .
Wikipedia. Al Capone. 22 January 2015. 2015. .
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