Bootlegging during the 1920s and Al Capone Activity

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Prohibition caused much controversy during the 1920s. The 18th Amendment was passed on January 16, 1920. In Title II, Section 3, the National Prohibition Act states that "no person shall, on or after the date when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States goes into effect, manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish, or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized in this act.' (United States Constitution) This essay investigates the extent to which the Italian Mafia influenced the repeal of the 18th Amendment through bootlegging, gang activity, and organized crime.

Gang activity during that time caused the repeal of the 18th Amendment. New York's Italian gang was based in East Harlem and was headed by Giuseppe. (Raab 26) The Brownsville gang has earlier murders that they committed on request and became a major mafia figure in Brooklyn. (Raab 67) There were many local gangs that had many ethnic groups, such as Italian, Polish, Jewish, and Irish, that focused on more street-level crimes: drugs, burglary, and contact violence. (Website) In 1929, there were seven of Moran's associates got shot in a garage during the stored St. Valentine's Day Massacre. (Website) Prior to the massacre, Bugsy Moran, the target of the Valentine's Day massacre, took ten cars to assassinate Capone while he was eating lunch. (Whiting 29).

The famous Al Capone gang retaliated by lining up rivals and shooting them to death with machine guns disguised as police officers (Ross 32). The rival gang thought they were getting searched for their illegal alcohol by the police; these men were actually Capone. After the Valentine's Day massacre, Al Capone learned of traitors within his organization. He invited three of them to dinner and beat them with a baseball bat, hoping he would set an example (Whiting 29). The new alcohol trafficking gangs crossed ethnic lines, with the Italians, Jews, Irish, and Poles working together. (Raab) This evidence is important due to there being more than one gang at the time. Also there were also killings during this time.

Bootlegging during the 1920s caused the repeal of the 18th Amendment. Maranzano, who was the defender of the mafia tradition, came to America with a small fortune but branched into bootlegging. (Raab 26) Organized racketeers dominated illegal bootlegging as well as the urban machine and vice kings. (Website) Luciano had business ideas that included bootlegging by cooperating with Italian and non-Italian gangs so that it would bring a greater quantity of booze and eliminate hijackings. (Raab 28) Bootleggers, rum runners, and speakeasy owners were looked over by officials, judges, and citizens, providing essential products and services. (Raab 25) Sicilian gangs from Naples were thriving in New York thanks to bootlegging. (Raab 25) This is important because it shows how bootleggers during the 1920s were mainly there to sell and distribute alcohol. The Mafia developed more profitable techniques, smuggling quality liquor from Britain and Canada, leading to the opening of their own converted breweries. (Raab 25)

They ran boats into oceans and lakes to buy liquor from Britain and Canada. (Website) During the middle of the night, in apartments, sheds, and back rooms of stores, "ally cookers" sprouted in New York. (Raab 23) Temperance movement advocates brought on the creation of the "Volstead Act," which was later changed to the 18th Amendment, and prohibitionists, who believed that alcohol consumption is both immoral and unethical. With this law came the creation of speakeasies and underground bars. These were places illegally set up that sold alcohol. The thing about the 18th Amendment was that it only banned the distribution and sale of alcohol, not its consumption. Prohibition was both enforceable and unpopular. (Capone) This evidence shows when, where, and how the Italian Mafia succeeded in bootlegging during the time.

Organized crime during Prohibition caused the repeal of the 18th Amendment. Organized crime brought frameworks and stacks of cash for different major crime families. (Website) Historians are uncertain if Luciano had schemed during the beginning to remove Masseria and Moranzano for Mafia profess and relighting. (Raab 30) At two o'clock on January 17, 1920, Prohibition and Internal Revenue Bureau agents found two truckloads of whisky that were being removed from a warehouse by "burglars." It was owned by Woolner & Co. (Nelli). There was a meeting on April 15, 1931, that was to plan a way to ambush Maranzano. Yet the Mafia was and always will be opposed by some people or organizations.

Opposition to the Mafia was always met with violence (Blumenthal 7). A well-known example of this is the case of Emanuel Notarbartolo, who was the director of a bank in Sicily. Emanuel publicly announced that he promised to rid the land of the Mafia once and for all. In 1893, he was assassinated, and Don Palizzo took over his position (History). During the '20s, there were a lot of violent crimes. Most of them could be connected back to organized crime families. During Prohibition, Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was a gangster who oversaw illegal activities such as smuggling and bootlegging of alcohol. Even though he had a tough exterior, he was a caring man; he was the first to open up a soup kitchen in Chicago (Hammer). Capone's estimated annual revenue was around 100 million dollars. He had many men working for him, such as Frank Nitti, August Pisano, and Louis Morganno. He supplied Chicago with most of its alcohol. (Capone) This evidence shows a few examples of the crimes that were going on at the time and how violent they actually were.

In conclusion, the Italian Mafia and other gangs cause the repeal of the 18th Amendment. It is clear that they did many illegal things during the 1920s and 1930s, such as bootlegging, organized crime, and gang activity. However, it was not just one person who was actually involved in everything.

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Bootlegging during the 1920s and Al Capone Activity. (2023, Mar 08). Retrieved April 22, 2024 , from

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