Al Capone, probably the most notorious and well-known gangster in history, was born in 1887 in Naples, Italy. His father, Gabriel Caponi, immigrated to Brooklyn from the slums of Naples in 1910. After he came here, he changed his last name to Capone to blend in more. Al Capone’s gang activities started when he was young. He was in the Five Points Gang, which was known for its violence. The gang’s tradition was to scar their victims with a knife cut from the outside corners of their eyes to their ears.
At the time, Johnny Torrio was a major mob boss, and his uncle, Jim Colosimo (AKA “Big Jim”), hired Capone as a bouncer. Al Capone was a large man who did his job well, and soon he came to be recognized in Torrio’s gang. During his stint as a bouncer, Capone once made a disrespectful comment to Frank Galluccio’s (a member of the Brooklynite gang) sister. Galluccio pulled out his pocket knife and went for Al’s face. When it was over, Capone had three big scars on his face. This earned him the nick name Scar Face. He hated the name, and whoever said it to his face would not live to regret it. After his recovery, he forgave Galluccio, and because of this gesture, he was hired as a bodyguard for Torrio at $100 a week. Capone eventually told the public that his scars were old war wounds received in France.
Al Capone married Mae Coughlin in 1918, and together they had a son, Albert Francis, who chose Johnny Torrio as his godfather. Torrio gave his godson $5000 a year. Shortly after, facing possible murder charges, they fled to Chicago.
When Colosimo died, Capone became the right-hand man of Torrio’s gang. Capone and Torrio worked together to expand the gang’s territory.
by taking out their leaders. On one occasion, there were Sicilians in the Sicilian Mafia and Al for a dinner in their “honor.” After they had finished their lavish meal and drunk as much wine as their hearts desired, he killed the unsuspecting visitors. They also tightened their political control over the city. Capone boasted, “I own the police.” He actually did own the police. This was most prominent during the November elections of 1929, when a lawyer by the name of Frank Lowsch persuaded Capone to have the elections be fair. He asked to have the police arrest any gangsters or hoodlums, and they did. There was not one incident of intervention in the ballots, and there were no complaints of harassment at all. In fact, that was the first fair election in 40 years. This was the biggest display of power that any outlaw has ever achieved: complete control over the nation’s second-largest city. Eventually, like most gangsters of the time, Torrio was hit by a member of the O Banionites of the north side of Chicago. So now the south side was controlled by Capone, and he had a plan to make the whole city of Chicago his domain. He was now public enemy number one. The only threat to his absolute power was Dion O’Banion. One day, when Dion O’Banion was outside his flower shop, he was gunned down by an unknown assassin. It is not very odd for Capone not to be involved in it because O’Banion had a lot of enemies from other gangs.
Al Capon’s biggest battle was the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. The whole story behind the St. Valentine’s Day massacre starts off in the city of Chicago in 1929. At the time, the city was divided in half between two gangs, the north side gang and the south side gang. The mob bosses behind it were the notorious Al Capone to the south and the infamous Bugs Moran to the north. Thanks to prohibition, the two had become the crime lords of Chicago, running gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging rackets while continuously expanding their territories by getting rid of rival gangs. Capone’s yearly gross income was estimated at $75,000,000. Today, that’s a lot of money, and back then, that much was unheard of. He had to take down “Bugs” Moran at any cost. If he did, he would have complete control of the city. But, since Moran was one of the leading gangsters in Chicago, he was not an easy target to take down. So, in order to get rid of Moran, Capone chose to start at the bottom and get rid of Moran’s gang, eventually leaving him defenseless.
On one cool February evening in North Chicago, at 2122 Clark Street at 10:30 p.m., seven men from the north side (the Morans gang) meet at a local place to get in on a deal to smuggle some alcohol from Canada. Frank and Pete Gusenberg, who were there to drive the trucks to pickup smuggled whisky, met at a local warehouse with James Clark (Moran’s brother-in-law), Adam Hayer, Al Weinshank, and Reinhardt Schwimmer. Suddenly, police rushed in on the mobster, who cooperated with the officers and dropped all their weapons. Then the fake policemen forced them up against the wall. As soon as their backs were turned, two men in long trench coats entered with two machine guns—a sawed-off shotgun and a.45—and shot them down. Most of the men slumped to the floor dead, and some men were cut in half by the machine gun spray. Thirty minutes later, policemen arrived on the scene to find the horrifying bloodbath. One man survived, Frank Gusenberg, who managed to crawl out into the street, where the police found him and asked. “Who shot you?” Sergeant Sweeney asked him. “No one—nobody shot me,” whispered the half-alive Gusenberg. Two days later, he died with the evidence to put Capone away.
It is said that when Capone heard the news, he simply said, “I’ll send flowers.”This was a customary gesture between Capone and Moran whenever they killed someone in the other’s gang, as they both owned flower shops. It became a competition between them to see who could outdo the other with the most lavish floral displays.
Al Capone had obviously devised the whole thing himself. He had hired his right-hand man to do the job, Jack (“Machine Gun”) McGurn. McGurn put together a first-rate team of out-of-towners. Fred “Killer” Burke was the leader and was assisted by a gunman named James Ray. Two other important members of the team were John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, who had been used in the murder of Frankie Yale. Joseph Lolordo was another player, as were Harry and Phil Keywell from Detroit’s Purple Gang. They lured Moran’s gang into the garage by offering a good deal on some alcohol. They dressed up as police and stole a police car to pretend to make a bust. When they entered, they took away their weapons and gunned them down against the wall. Then they left the scene, pretending to get custody of the two gunmen. The crime was perfect, but the only problem was that he failed to take out Moran. Moran showed up a little late; when he got there, he saw the fake cops, and he fled.
Al Capone was never arrested for the crimes; instead, he was indicted for tax evasion some years later and spent seven years in prison only to be released to retire in Florida. Al Capone’s own personal doctor found out that his mistress had syphilis, so he wanted to take blood from Capone to check for the disease. But Al couldn’t bear to have his blood taken. So in 1947, he died of syphilis in his retirement home. McGurn was smart enough to marry his girlfriend Louise Rolfe, better known as the “blonde alibi,” who could not testify against her new husband. All charges against him were dropped. But seven years later, McGurn himself was murdered on Valentine’s Day. A comic Valentine card had been placed on his body by the men who gunned him down. Fred “Killer” Burke, gunman James Ray, John Scalise, Albert Anselmi, and Joseph Lolordo were never caught by the police, but they were caught by Moran’s men and killed.
I was very surprised at what I found out about Al Capone. I knew he was a big mob boss, but I didn’t think that he was so violent. The one incident that really surprised me was when he met three Sicilians for a dinner in their “honor.” After they had finished their lavish meal and drank as much wine as their hearts desired, the smile that had been on Capone’s face disappeared, and now silence fell over the table and the unsuspecting guests looked up nervously at Capone. Then Capone said, “You thought that I didn’t know, huh? Well, there is one offense that I never forgive, and that is disloyalty.” Even though Capone was ruthless, he still carried out the old custom of hospitality before execution. After saying that, his bodyguards leaped on the men and started to strangle them. Al came out with a base-ball bat in hand. He beat all of them to death, and to make sure they were dead, they also shot them in the back of the head.
Something else that surprised me was the competition between the gangs over who could give the most flowers and give the most lavish funerals to the men they killed on the other side of town. Al Capone was a very ruthless killer, but he still had style and a certain class about him.
We all know of Al Capone as a gangster, but in his time he actually gave to a lot of charities and organizations. Some people thought of him as a hero. To the upper-class people, he was an outlaw, but to the poor, he was Santa Claus.
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