Al Capone Essay, Research Paper
Born in New York City by parents Gabriel and Teresa Capone, Alphonse was blessed with a historical blend of ruthless gangster in his blood. Capone’s parents immigrated to the United States in 1893 from Naples, Italy. Capone came from a huge family. He was the fourth oldest of nine children. At birth, Capone’s parents never would have believed that their son Alphonse would grow up to be a murderous thug without remorse. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 603)
As a child, Al Capone was very wise when it came to living on the streets of New York. He had a clever and somewhat ingenious mind when it came to street smarts. If the act of plotting a crime was in question, Al Capone was as sharp as they come. As far as school goes, Capone was a near-illiterate. He came from a poverty stricken neighborhood in Brooklyn, so education was not a top priority.
When Capone reached the age of eleven he became a member of a juvenile gang in his neighborhood. While this was taking place, around the year 1900, about eleven percent of all the foreign born population in the United States were Italian. Being part of the first born U. S. Generation, Capone was forced to either deal with a miserable low wage job with a hopeless future or make an improvement for himself by committing first petty, then serious crime. Al Capone’s philosophy was to the effect that laws only applied to people who had enough money to abide by them. (The Mafia Encyclopedia 603)
While in the Bim Booms Gang, Capone was taught how to defend himself by way of a knife, and if need be, by way of a revolver. By the time Capone reached the sixth grade he had already become a street brawler. Capone never responded well to authority and for this very reason his schooling would soon come to an end. While attending school, Capone was responsible for beating a female teacher and knocking her to the ground. The principal of the school rushed in and chastised young Capone and for this very reason he would never return to school again. (The Mafia Encyclopedia 603)
After giving up on school, Al Capone took up odd jobs such as working as a pin-setter at a bowling alley, and working behind the counter at a candy store. Capone was definitely a night owl. He was a pool shark, winning every eightball tournament held in Brooklyn. He also became an expert knife fighter. Although the Bim Booms Gang was the first gang Capone ever entered, he was quickly picked up by the Five Pointers. The Five Pointers was the most powerful gang in New York city. The gang was headed by Johnny Torrio, and was made up of over 1,500 thugs who specialized in burglary, extortion, robbery, assault, and murder. While working as a strong arm enforcer under Torrio, Capone learned all the lethal tricks that would propel him from rags to riches in no time at all. Capone was very grateful to Torrio and is quoted as saying: “I looked on Johnny as my adviser and father and the party that made it possible for me to get my start.” (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 604)
Torrio first set Capone out to do all of his dirty work. ” Capone was sent to beat up loan shark victims behind on their payments, then a pimp, beating up girls who were holding out on their nightly take.” (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 604) Torrio finally got Capone a job as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn. By this time Capone was recognized by his gang as being a vicious fighter with both fists and knives. He also became an excellent marksman with both a revolver and automatic weapons. This was due to many months of shooting empty bottles in the basement of the Inn.
Al Capone was later promoted to bartender at the Inn. This was about the time he acquired the scar that would disfigure him for life, not to mention, give him his most hated nickname, Scarface. It is really not known how Capone ended up with a scar that extended four inches across his left cheek. Capone liked to lie about how he got the scar. One of his favorite stories was one saying that the scar was received in World War 1, due to catching shrapnel while fighting as a member of the famous “Lost Battalion.” A more believable story is that Capone harassed a female companion of a hoodlum, and in retaliation the hood slashed Capone’s face. Needless to say what happened to the hoodlum. (The Mafia Encyclopedia 61)
On December 18, 1918, Capone was wed at the age of 19, to a 21 year old Irish girl named Mae Coughlin. A short time later Albert Francis Capone was born to the couple. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 604) At the same time this was going on, in New York Johnny Torrio moved his operations to Chicago. Torrio’s prospects in New York looked dim because Capone was indicted for two murders. He was released when a witness lost her memory, and evidence suddenly vanished from the court. Al Capone knew that he had Johnny “Papa” Torrio to thank for this. A few days later, Capone got into a scruff with another man and killed him. Rather than being indicted again, Capone called Torrio and received an invitation to move to Chicago. So he packed up his wife and child and did just that.
Upon arrival in Chicago, Capone was given a job as a bouncer/bartender at Torrio’s newest club, The Four Deuces. Capone was known as an aggressive hulk, hospitalizing most of the drunks he evicted. Men were hospitalized with broken arms, broken legs, skull fractures, and on one occasion even blood poisoning because Capone bit through the skin directly into the man’s artery. Capone was repeatedly arrested for assault, but was always released thanks to Torrio’s police connections.
While working at The Four Deuces, Capone strangled at least twelve men with his bare hands. The bodies were dragged to the basement through a trap door that led to the alley behind the club. There a fast getaway car would always be waiting for Capone to flee in. The underworld of Chicago at the time was being run by a fellow named “Big Jim” Colosimo. Colosimo was a flamboyant man. He dressed lavishly in expensive suits and was covered in diamond jewelry. He was always seen eating at expensive restaurants, and owned all the whore houses, saloons, and gambling dens in Chicago. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 606)
Johnny Torrio grew very jealous of Colosimo and soon sent for his most loyal hit man, Al Capone. The real reason Capone left New York was not because of being indicted. He would have been released just like the previous two times because of his gang affiliations there. When Capone arrived in Chicago, he was assigned the small jobs as a bouncer and bartender to disguise Torrio’s real reason for sending for him, to kill off “Big Jim” Colosimo.
“Big Jim” Colosimo was killed on the night of May 11, 1920. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 606) The reason for his death was due mostly to the prohibition act to be passed in 1920. The act forbid alcohol to be distributed to all the saloons in Chicago. Torrio, the nephew of Colosimo, often pried at him to start an underground still that could supply all the bars with beer and liquor. In the eyes of Torrio there were thousands of dollars to be made in this racket; but Colosimo always answered with a firm no. In this instance “Big Jim” Colosimo sealed his own fate. This is also how Torrio’s right hand man Al Capone was soon to become the great purveyor of booze in Chicago during Prohibition.
During this time Al Capone actually became a hero to some local bar hoppers. Some say that he was cheered at baseball games at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, while President Herbert Hoover was booed. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 607) Capone’s mob of thugs literally ran the streets of Chicago. While Capone’s street mob was in its prime, it consisted of over 1,000 members and half of the Chicago police force. Capone’s payroll at the time consisted of police officers, aldermen, state’s attorneys, mayors, legislators, governors, and even congressmen. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 608) “In one instance the mayor of Cicero, a small suburb of Chicago, took action by passing a bill without first clearing it with Scarface. Capone seized his honor on the steps of city hall and proceeded to kick and punch him to a pulp.” (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 610)
Being the “King of Chicago” had its downfalls for Capone. Numerous threats on his life were made over his notorious reign. He was shot at in streets, had poison slipped into his food at clubs, and numerous other occasions. Such as the time a rival Chicago street gang, headed by Dion O’Banion, emptied 1,000 rounds into the Hawthorn Inn where Capone was staying. This was perhaps Capone’s closest brush with death, as he watched the bullets chew up the wood and glass that covered the Inn, from his back on the dining room floor. Later the arranging of O’Banion’s death would be marked as one of Capone’s greatest accomplishments. This assassination was done by Capone’s two best gunners, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. As it turns out, Scalise and Anselmi were conspiring a plan with enemies of Capone to kill him. “Capone invited them to a banquet in their honor and, at the climax of the evening, produced a gift wrapped Indian club with which he bashed their brains out.” (The Mafia Encyclopedia 62)
Unfortunately for Al Capone all was not well after the “Indian club caper.” Capone committed a monumental blunder when he ordered the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The effort was to kill the last major leader of the O’Banion’s street gang, Bugs Moran. Capone’s men dressed as police officers and lined seven of O’Banion’s gang members up across a garage wall. The gang offered no resistance because they thought it was a routine bust. Instead Capone’s men opened up over 1,000 rounds of machine gun fire instantly slaughtering the members. Unfortunately Bugs Moran was not present among the seven men who were killed. This notorious blunder caught the eye of the public and caused opinions to change concerning the bootleg wars. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 612)
Capone’s downfall was caused by one of his own business agents who ran Capone’s dog and horse race tracks. The man’s name was Eddie O’Hare, one of the best undercover men hired by the IRS. He informed the IRS where books reflecting Capone’s income could be seized. Capone had never paid any type of income tax and for this very reason he was brought up on charges of tax invasion in front of the federal court. Capone offered the federal government $400,000. to drop the case against him, but they rejected the offer. Capone was convicted and given the maximum sentence which was a $50,000. fine, court costs of $30,000., and eleven years in jail. “Moreover, all his assets and that of his wife’s were seized by the government. Much of these holdings, however, were in the names of others and dummy corporations, such as Capone’s Florida estate, so they remained with the family.” (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 616 )
Capone started his sentence in an Atlanta prison. In 1934 he was transferred to “The Rock” otherwise known as Alcatraz. Five years later he was released from Alcatraz as a helpless paretic, due to the untreated syphilis he contracted in his early whorehouse days. Later that year, Al Capone was judged insane and was released to the care of his family. During this same period of time, gunmen in Chicago sought out Edward J. O’Hare and shot him to death in his car. (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 616)
In January 1947 Capone had a massive brain hemorrhage and died. His body was removed from his estate in Florida and transferred back to the seen of his underworld triumph – Chicago. “Immediately upon arrival in Chicago by train, the corpse of the dead crime czar was met by armed guards who escorted it to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Even in death, Capone commanded gunmen legions to protect him against unseen enemies, in this case ghouls.” (The Encyclopedia of World Crime 617) The family held a private ceremony at the cemetery, but were wary of grave robbers taking the corpse so they reburied Alphonse Capone in a secret plot in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. This is where the legendary crime lord shall rest in peace.