Al Capone

Al Capone

Al Capone is America\'s best known gangster
and the single greatest symbol of the collapse of law and order in the

United States during the 1920s Prohibition era. Capone had a leading role
in the illegal activities that lent Chicago its reputation as a lawless
city.

Capone was born on January 17, 1899, in

Brooklyn, New York. Baptized "Alphonsus Capone," he grew up in a rough
neighborhood and was a member of two "kid gangs," the Brooklyn Rippers
and the Forty Thieves Juniors. Although he was bright, Capone quit school
in the sixth grade at age fourteen. Between scams he was a clerk in a candy
store, a pinboy in a bowling alley, and a cutter in a book bindery. He
became part of the
notorious Five Points gang in Manhattan
and worked in gangster Frankie Yale\'s Brooklyn dive, the Harvard Inn, as
a bouncer and bartender. While working at the Inn, Capone received his
infamous facial scars and the resulting nickname "Scarface" when he insulted
a patron and was attacked by her brother.

In 1918, Capone met an Irish girl named

Mary "Mae" Coughlin at a dance. On December 4, 1918, Mae gave birth to
their son, Albert "Sonny" Francis. Capone and Mae married that year on

December 30.

Capone\'s first arrest was on a disorderly
conduct charge while he was working for Yale. He also murdered two men
while in New York, early testimony to his willingness to kill. In accordance
with gangland etiquette, no one admitted to hearing or seeing a thing so

Capone was never tried for the murders. After Capone hospitalized a rival
gang member, Yale sent him to Chicago to wait until things cooled off.

Capone arrived in Chicago in 1919 and moved his family into a house at

7244 South Prairie Avenue.

Capone went to work for Yale\'s old mentor,

John Torrio. Torrio saw Capone\'s potential, his combination of physical
strength and intelligence, and encouraged his protˇ gˇ . Soon Capone was
helping Torrio manage his bootlegging business. By mid-1922 Capone ranked
as Torrio\'s number two man and eventually became a full partner in the
saloons, gambling houses,and brothels.

When Torrio was shot by rival gang members
and consequently decided to leave Chicago, Capone inherited the "outfit"
and became boss. The outfit\'s men liked, trusted, and obeyed Capone, calling
him "The Big Fellow." He quickly proved that he was even better at organization
than syndicating and expanding the city\'s vice industry between 1925 and

1930. Capone controlled speakeasies, bookie joints, gambling houses, brothels,
income of $100,000,000 a year. He even acquired a sizable interest in the
largest cleaning and dyeing plant chain in Chicago.

Although he had been doing business with

Capone, the corrupt Chicago mayor William "Big Bill" Hale Thompson, Jr.
decided that Capone was bad for his political image. Thompson hired a new
police chief to run Capone out of Chicago. When Capone looked for a new
place to live, he quickly discovered that he was unpopular in much of the
country. He finally bought an estate at 93 Palm Island, Florida in 1928.

Attempts on Capone\'s life were never successful.

He had an extensive spy network in Chicago, from newspaper boys to policemen,
so that any plots were quickly discovered. Capone, on the other hand, was
skillful at isolating and killing his enemies when they became too powerful.

A typical Capone murder consisted of men renting an apartment across the
street from the victim\'s residence and gunning him down when he stepped
outside. The operations were quick and complete and Capone always had an
alibi.

Capone\'s most notorious killing was the

St. Valentine\'s Day Massacre. On February 14, 1929, four Capone men entered
a garage at 2122 N. Clark Street. The building was the main liquor headquarters
of bootlegger George "Bugs" Moran\'s North Side gang. Because two of Capone\'s
men were dressed as police, the seven men in the garage thought it was
a police raid. As a result, they dropped their guns and put their hands
against the wall. Using two shotguns and two machine guns, the Capone men
fired more than 150 bullets into the victims. Six of the seven killed were
members of Moran\'s gang; the seventh was an unlucky friend. Moran, probably
the real target, was across the street when Capone\'s men arrived and stayed
away when he saw the police uniforms. As usual, Capone had an alibi; he
was in Florida during the massacre.

Although Capone ordered dozens of deaths
and even killed with his own hands, he often treated people fairly and
generously. He was equally known for his violent temper and for his strong
sense of loyalty and honor. He was the first to open soup