The life and accomplishments of Al Capone during the prohibition era in the 1920s.

Topics: Prohibition in the United States, Chicago, Al Capone Pages: 6 (2522 words) Published: November 15, 2002
During the prohibition era of the 1920's, if one wasn't an enemy of Alphonse (Al) "Scarface" Capone, was he, in many eyes, a hero? Due to his savvy street smarts and the corrupt rebellion of the decade, Al Capone was not only a popular commentary of the time, but is now a legend. His classic boy from the ghetto turned generous multi-millionaire story only adds to the heroism seen in this most famous Chicago mobster. Chicago's industries, open spaces and four seasons were an enormous magnet for the 19th century Europeans looking for a home and opportunity. The frontier Chicago grew into a wonderful collection of ethnic neighborhoods - Irish, Italian, Russian, Greek, German, Polish and others. In many of these communities, making beer and liquor at home was as much a tradition as it was an effort to compete with licensed distilleries and breweries. At least until 1920. With the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it was no longer legal to manufacture or sell alcoholic beverages anywhere in this county for all practical purposes. That is definitely not to say it stopped going on however. In spite of the law barring manufacture, the drinking of alcoholic beverages remained as popular as ever. Just as today, the liquor industry is incredibly lucrative. The opportunity to profit from the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol was more than many Chicagoans could resist, so they enthusiastically got in the business. The opportunity to sell alcohol or to provide protection in various neighborhoods were valuable rights, and the competition for them was fierce. The rackets spawned by enactment of the Prohibition Amendment were enormous, and the city of Chicago was not about to miss out on cashing in on these illegal doings. Many of the separate mobs of the era developed interests in legitimate businesses, as the cleaning and dyeing field, and cultivated influence with receptive public officials, labor unions and employees' associations. The "mobs" of the 1920s were in fact not much more than businesses. With the rest of the nation during this "dry" period, Chicago and it's people (including its police officers, politicians and judges), rebelled against the prohibition amendment. As 1920's novelist Sinclair Lewis illustrates in famous novel, Babitt, the use of alcoholic beverages was still going on. It may not have been in bars, but it was always prevalent at the parties of the middle and upper classes. Chicago was the non-fiction version of this. Right when the enactment of the prohibition amendment took place, Al Capone was requested to move to Chicago by Colosimo mob leader, Johnny Torrio (Bergreen 14).Eventually Capone made his way up the ranks to the head of the gang, having already acquired a "fearsome reputation in the ruthless gang rivalries (Bergreen 24)" of the period, struggling to acquire and retain "racketeering rights" to several areas of Chicago. That reputation grew as rival gangs were eliminated or nullified, and the suburb of Cicero became, in effect, a fiefdom of the Capone mob ("Alphonse" 1). Al Capone's main business was the manufacturing and selling of alcohol. He owned and operated almost all of the breweries and liquor distilleries in Chicago, and maintained control of this until the end of the prohibition era. In his 1931 account of Capone, Richard T. Enright writes that the, "United States District Attorney estimated that he [Capone] operated a gross of $70,000,000 a year in the illicit liquor business alone. In 1927 government officials estimated that he commanded a gross income of $105,000,000 a year from liquor interests and other rackets. Today his business is said to be gross $300,000,000 a year." Virtually everyone was consuming alcohol, what could the police do? They were not about to arrest their fellow drinking buddies, nor where they about to apprehend their main supplier! We know Robin Hood as a rebel who gave to the peoples' demands, this is exactly what Capone was...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • The Life and Times of Al Capone Essay
  • Prohibition in the 1920s Essay
  • Al Capone: A Criminal Mind Essay
  • The Life and World of Al Capone Essay
  • Prohibition Essay
  • The Causes of Prohibition (America 1920s) Essay
  • Prohibition of the 1920's Essay
  • Prohibition in the 1920s-1930s Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free