Al Capone's Life

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A bio for history class. Please DO NOT COPY

Submitted: September 21, 2009

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Submitted: September 21, 2009

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Al Capone Biography
 
Imagine being the head of the biggest organized crime generator. Imagine the power you’d have in your own industry. Imagine the pressure of always having to look over your shoulder, just to make sure the police aren’t following. Or suppose it’s not the police, but a rival? Do you suppose that you’d be able to handle that?
Al Capone, originally Alphonse Gabriel Capone, was born January 17, 1899. More commonly nicknamed Scarface, Al Capone was an Italian-American who was born in Brooklyn to Southwestern Italian immigrants Gabriele and Teresina Capone. His father was a male prostitute and his mother a seamstress. Capone dropped out of school at the age of fourteen, working jobs around Brooklyn, including in a candy store and a bowling alley. Johnny Torrio turned him on to gang banging; as a result, he joined many different small time gangs, finally joining the notorious Five Points Gang. While working at a nightclub, he accidentally insulted the sister of the man who would soon start a fight and give him his name of Scarface. Later, he would misrepresent the wounds as battle scars from the war.
Although, most trouble makers tend to have a romantic side. On December 30, 1918, Capone married Mae Josephine Coughlin, an Irish woman. Earlier that month, their son, Albert Francis "Sonny" Capone, was born. Around 1921, Capone and his family left New York and moved to Chicago. They moved in on the city’s south side. Capone came because Torrio had invited him, who was seeking business in bootlegging alcohol. At this time, Prohibition was in place and it was illegal to consume, distribute, or have alcohol. Capone was a suspect of two murders at the time and this wouldn’t look any better on his job resume. But this was a job that would provide for his family, so what’s a guy to do?
The Capone organization was based outside of Chicago in Cicero, Illinois. Capone managed to takeover the government of Cicero in 1924. Gangsters Myles O'Donnell and his brother William "Klondike" O'Donnell fought Capone for their home turf. This fight resulted in the killing of over 200 people and even the killing of the infamous "Hanging Prosecutor" Bill McSwiggins. Capone’s thugs threatened voters at the voting polls when his mayoral candidate was running. Not a short time after though, the new mayor threatened to run Capone out of town. Capone met with him and personally threw him down a flight of stairs, showing a great victory for the Capone-Torrio alliance. Later, Capone found that his brother, Frank, had been killed by the police. He showed up at the funeral unshaven, as gangster tradition, and cried openly throughout the service.
Capone gained much wealth in Cicero by bribing the mayor, thus able to operate without legal interventions. He operated casinos and speakeasies throughout the city as well as bootlegging. Wealth gave him a comfortable life of custom suits, cigars, gourmet food and drink, jewelry, and female companionship. Capone was a growing celebrity with all of the media attention. However, he could not be lucky forever. Rivalries came to haunt him, rivalries which led to the many attempts to murder Capone. He was shot in a restaurant, and he had his car riddled with bullets more than once. Capone fitted his Cadillac with armor plating, bulletproof glass, run-flat tires, and a police siren. Capone was never seriously injured during these attempted assassinations. But most left him afraid for his life, afraid of Moran, who’d been involved in many of the attacks.
When his headquarters moved to Lexington Hotel, he had it filled with armed guards at all times. He had many suppose hideouts, including one in Lansing, Michigan. Tunnels found under the city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, are said to have been another hideout of Capone's. Capone considered Moran a maniac and lived in fear of his gang. Even in his last days as he lay ravaged by syphilis, Capone raved on about Communists, foreigners, and George Moran, whom he was convinced was still plotting to kill him from his Ohio prison cell.
Capone organized the massacre of Saint Valentine’s Day in 1929 in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the city’s north side. It was an effort to dispose of Moran, the man he’d lived in fear of. The raid plan went well and Moran’s gang, along with an innocent optometrist, all died. Seven of them were nearly cut in half by the bullets that were fired. Moran escaped for the time being. When reporters asked Moran if they thought Capone killed them, he replied, “Only Capone kills like that!” An irate Capone said, “Oh yeah! Listen ... they don't call that guy 'Bugs' for nothing!" in a reference to Moran's reputation for savagery. Moran marked Capone for extermination. Unluckily enough for Moran though, he ran out of resources and fled to Ohio when he met a legal dilemma and was taken from power.
In 1929, Elliot Ness did a successful investigation on Capone and landed Capone behind bars. He shut down many speakeasies and breweries Capone owned, diminishing his power slowly. Later, he was taken from Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary and moved to Alcatraz. He entered Alcatraz with his normal confidence, but he knew that his empire was withering quicker now that no one would watch it. He attempted to earn time off for good behavior and tried to bribe guards, which only got him sent to solitary confinement. He made enemies in prison when cutting in line for haircuts. James C. Lucas constantly told him to go to the back of the line and when Capone asked if he knew who he was, James responded by grabbing a pair of the barber's scissors and, holding them to Capone's neck, answered, “Yeah, I know who you are, grease ball. And if you don't get back to the end of that line, I'm gonna know who you were.” Inmates repeatedly harassed him throughout his imprisonment. There were many unsuccessful attempts on his life, just like back home.
Capone’s interests in organized crime diminished after his detainment in Alcatraz. He was no longer able to run his operation and he had lost weight, and his physical and mental health had been disrupted greatly. On January 21, 1947, Capone had an apoplectic stroke. He woke up and began to improve only to contract pneumonia on January 24, which caused a cardiac arrest the next day. He died after the cardiac arrest. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, between the graves of his father, Gabriele, and brother, Frank. However, in March 1950, the remains of the three family members were moved to another cemetery for fear of hate crimes any living rivals might commit. Al Capone remains one of the most prominent cultural icons with such movies as Scarface modeled after his life.
 


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