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St. Valentine'S Day Massacre

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St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The 1920's was a decade marked with lawlessness. There was plenty of money to be made, and after the National Prohibition Act, everyone wanted a piece of the action. Two gangs went head to head for control of the lucrative illegal alcohol business. One group was led by George "Bugs" Moran, and the other, by Al "Scarface" Capone. Both sought to rule this business at the cost of the other. This confrontation climaxed on a chilly February morning in 1929. In an empty warehouse in Chicago, seven men were executed by a firing squad. This event became known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

Control of the profitable liquor trade sparked the gang wars that littered the late 1920's with bodies. Chicago was their battleground. The opposing forces were the North Side Gang, led by Dion O'Banion, and the West Side Gang who had John Torrio as its frontrunner ("Seven Chicago Gangsters"). Torrio had ambitious plans. He sought to unite the gangs of Chicago into one powerful association in which he would have full control. However, Dion O'Banion did not fall into place as one of Torrio's pawns. In 1924, O'Banion betrayed the powerful Torrio. Shortly after, O'Banion was gunned down at his flower shop, which he used as a front for his operation. Believing Torrio was behind the assassination, the North Side gang struck back (Wilker 36-37). This was the beginning of the gang wars that lasted for five years.

Even though Torrio initiated this conflict, it became too much for him. The increasing level of corruption and bloodshed came back to him. After being wounded buy a North Side gunman, Torrio handed over his operation to his successor. His replacement's name is synonymous with the words ruthless and bloodthirsty. Taking Torrio's place was the infamous Al Capone. With Torrio out of the picture, The North Side Gang began to focus their attention on Capone. He became their chief target (Wilker 37). The two gangs continued to fight throughout the 1920's. In 1929, "Bugs" Moran was in control of the North Side Gang. Every move Capone made for advancement Moran reacted with a counter strike. The North Side gang repeatedly hijacked liquor going to Capone and even bombed six saloons that Capone was supplying (Kobler 238). Moran and the North Side Gang were thorns in Capone's side, and they needed to be removed.

One night, a hijacker, who some believed to be responsible for the theft of a load of whiskey meant for Moran, called Moran and offered him a load of Canadian Whiskey from Detroit at the price of fifty seven dollars a case. Moran agreed to the deal (Kobler 241, 247). The exchange would be made the next morning at a warehouse the North Side Gang frequented on North Clark Street at 10:30. The next morning was Valentine's Day. Seven of Moran's henchmen were waiting at the cold warehouse for the load of whiskey. Moran was to be there shortly but was running late (New Media, "St. Valentine's Day Massacre"). What appeared to be a police car pulled up outside. Two men, in policemen's uniforms were followed by three men in civilian attire. Bystanders watched as the men entered the building. They all took it as a routine police raid. Unfortunately, so did Moran's gang. After hearing gunfire, bystanders watched as the two men in uniform led two others out at gunpoint. The third man in civilian clothing was believed to be a detective (Kobler



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