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The ultimate symbol of a gangster rule is a man the name of Alphonse Capone, nickname Al Capone, who dominates the Chicago underworld crimes: such as illegal gambling, prostitution, and alcohol during prohibition. Capone's life of gang activates at a very young age, created a multi-million dollar empire of crimes in Chicago. He has been referred to as one of the most notorious criminals of all time. (Stockdale 45). He was a smart businessman, good family man, and a generous person, that lived the life full of murders and other crimes.
His father Gabriele Capone was a barber that lived in Naples, Italy who decided to escape the rural life in the promise of work of the new world. He was one of the 43.000 Italians who arrived in the U.S. in 1894 (Stockdale 7-8). Gabriele was 30 years old and his 27 year old wife Teresina and their three sons. He was planning to start a barbershop when he got to America. On January Teresina gave birth to their fourth son named Alphonse Capone (Bardsley 2). The Capone family lived a very normal life with its barbershop in an Italian district in South Brooklyn. This move exposed Capone to a different kind of life on the streets. He became member of a junior gang called the Forty Thieves Juniors, which taught its members the art of petty vandalism. The gang taught the use of violence to get what they want. When he was 14 years old, Al Capone got expelled from school and never went back after hitting a teacher. By this time, Al Capone was destined to live a life of crimes (Stockdale 9-11).
By the time he was 14 years old, he was experienced street fighter and had learned how to use a knife and gun successfully and he became a good leader of the junior gang and was introduced to the Five Points Gang in Brooklyn. Al Capone was 16 years old when he was introduced to prostitution, gambling, extortion (Schoenberg 23-25). Al Capone worked at the Harvard Inn as a bouncer. One night the tried to pick up a woman that he found attractive, not knowing that her brother was sitting next to her. Her brother jumped up and hit Capone in the face. Capone became raged and the other man pulled out a knife and cut Capone's face before he ran out of the Harvard Inn with his sister.
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In 1918, Al Capone got married and had a son with his wife Mae Coughlin. His son was found to have a congenital syphilis and Al Capone admitted that he had syphilis before he got married. Al Capone got out of the gang life for a little while after his father died of a heart attack on November 14, 1920. After the death of his father, he resumed his relationship with John Torrio. Torrio then decided to move out of Brooklyn for Chicago. Al Capone had threats of his life so he moved to Chicago with Torrio. (Stockdale 11-13).
John Torrio Began a new empire in Chicago after the prohibition law was passed. Al Capone became Torrio's assistant and manager. Torrio started an operation to purchase the entire city government and police departments. He paid off all the officials, political leaders so his new organization had a guaranteed noninterference of the authorities (Stockdale 15-19). Al Capone began running the operation when Torrio had to take his mother back to Italy. Capone helped politicians win elections by kidnapping opponents and threatening voter with violence (Bardsley 14-16).
Al Capone by this time had committed many murders, but had not been charged for any of them. The victims were afraid to speak out for they feared for their lives. Short after Torrio came back from Italy; he was shot and almost died. He recovered from this incident and decided to retire from the gang community. He gave full control of the gang in Chicago to Al Capone (Stockdale 19-21).
In Chicago, there was an intense rivalry between gangs growing. Each gang was trying to eliminate by killing its members. Anytime Al Capone was suspected of a murder, he went hiding till the situation died down. Al Capone succeed in making peace with was left of the rival gangs (Bardsley 24-26).
Al Capone was a very giving person and did many generous things for this community. He made many contributions for the less fortunate and opening soup kitchens for the poor and purchased food and fuel for families in the winter. His business employs thousands of people, which included many poor Italian immigrants. He paid them very well and took care of them. It was reported that his gross income from all his business in 1927 was 100 million dollars (Schoenburg 282-282). Even though he has a ruthless business in his hand he found time to give back to the community and make public appearances.
Unemployed people did not care that the money he gave them was made illegally, to them money was money. People were at depression at the time, and they were fortunate enough just to receive little something even though it came illegally.
In February 14, 1927, two of the Capone's men including his hit man Mcgurn entered a garage where his rival gang Moran and some of his guys were said to be located, the team was dressed in police uniforms and armed with machine guns and shotguns. They shot down seven of Moran's men's but Moran was never there. The police and all the people of Chicago knew the murders were ordered by Capone. But with no evidence, Capone could not be arrested. Ever since the St. Valentine's Day massacre, Al Capone was know as most famous gangster in the 1920s.
The publicity surrounding the St. Valentines Day Massacre was the most any gang event had ever received. It was the only local publicity at that moment that gained national media attention. Capone was immediately noticed by the national media and writers all over the country began to write books on Capone (Bergreen 28-31). Now Capone was known all over the United States and people now know who he is and what he has done in Chicago. Al Capone influence many other smaller gangsters as a good influence to them.
Capone revealed in his new found celebrity status and used Damon Runyo as his press Agent (Bergreen 35-36). Now the damage of all the publicity had done because Capone's intention was to attract the attention of President Herbert Hoover.
President Hoover wanted Al Capone in jail and he directed all the federal agencies to concentrate upon Al Capone and his allies.
A few days latter Capone was called before a grand Jury in Chicago, but did not understand the seriousness of the powerful forces that were gathering against him. In June 1930, after an exhaustive investigation by the federal government, Al Capone was indicted for income tax evasion.
One of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century, murder of innumerous people imprisoned for tax evasion (American Decades CD-room).
The jury found Al Capone not guilty on eighteen of the twenty-three counts. The judge sentenced him to 10 years in Federal Prison and one year in county jail.
In May 1930, Capone was sent to Atlanta, the toughest of the Federal Prisons, to begin his eleven year sentence. In prison Capone took control, getting special privileges from the authorities such as furnishing his cell with a mirror, typewriter, rugs, and a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Capone took control because of his wealth that he still had.
The word spread around that Capone had taken over in Atlanta, so he was sent to Alcatraz. Alcatraz prison was so tight that he had no knowledge of the outside world. He was unable to control anyone or buy influence or friends (Al Capone).
While in Alcatraz, he exhibited signs of syphilitic dementia. Capone spent the rest of this felony sentence in the hospital. Capone spent his last year in the hospital and in January 6, 1939, his prison sentence expired and he was transferred to Terminal Island, a Federal correction Institution in California, to serve his one-year misdemeanor sentence. He was finally released on November 16, 1939. Capone returned to this home in Palm Island and spends the rest of his life relaxed and quiet. On January 21, 1947, he had a stroke but regained conscious and began to improve until pneumonia hit Capone. Then a few days later he died of a heart attack on January 25. His body was buried in Chicago on February four; the site of his grave became a famous tourist attraction so they moved the body to an unpublicized spot in Mount Carmel cemetery. His tombstone read, "My Jesus Mercy (Bergreen 605-609).
Al Capone was a notorious and intelligent gangster, he used his famous status not only to accumulate wealth but to help people and gain influence in all social status of life.
I do not know what causes criminal behavior but if we put two famous criminal side by side and explain their childhood maybe we can get close to an answer. For example:
Al Capone and Charles Manson were two different personality but they were both danger criminals.
Capone and Manson grow up in different environment that was decisive to the development of their character. Capone had a family but involved with the wrong people in his adolescence that in my opinion led him to his life of criminal behavior.
Manson in the other hand had been a messed up individual since day one, his mother was sent to prison for armed robbery and tried to get Manson in a foster home, however the courts refused and sent him to Gibault School for Boys where he was always angry.
Arthur L. Beeley explains that experience has shown that human beings are basically prone to theft and violence. In pre-civilized societies, however, sooner or later evolve sanctions which forbid and punish predatory behavior. These morals are calculated to protect the individual in his right to the ownership of property, and to the inviolability of his personality. He also explains that in complex urban cultures, such as those of the West, especially societies like ours which experience periods of rapids social change, the traditional moral sanctions and the social institutions which define and enforce them tend to become ineffective in controlling the anti-social tendencies of their members.
In my opinion, crime behavior has everything to do with our childhood; if the human race is prone to theft and violence the only way to stop this behavior is to teach our children how to be a good citizen when they grow up. If all the parents teach their children how to be good citizens and follow the rules of society, maybe the tendency to criminal behavior will end one day.
Bergreen, & Lawrence (1996).The Man and the Era.
Haller, M.. (1999). American National Biography. Oxford University Press.
Hornung, R. (1998). Al Capone. Randon House Value Publish.
Kobler, J. (1992). Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone. G.P. Putnam's New York.
American Decades CD (1998) Al Capone. Gale Research. Gale Group.
Al Capone. http://www.chicagohs.org/ (Electronic Version) (2001).
Encyclopedia of World Biography. Al Capone. 2nd ed. Volume Gale Research.