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The Rise And Fall Of Al Capone

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The most powerful mob leader of his time; the most notorious gangster known by most today, Al “Scarface” Capone.


Due to the vastness of material and information available on the subject of the rise and fall of Al Capone, this paper has been limited to his life, his ascent to power as one of the most notorious gangsters of all time, till his death


The information contained herein has been derived from the review of internet sources, television, books, and personal knowledge.

Course: The American Experience

The Rise and fall of Al Capone


U.S. Constitution: Eighteenth Amendment

Eighteenth Amendment - Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors

Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.( )

With the 18th Amendment in mind, we will explore the life of Alphonse “Scarface” Capone as it relates to the rise of his prominent career as the most notorious American gangster who dominated organized crime in Chicago from 1925 thru 1931. His lifestyle eventually led to his incarceration and ultimately his death.


Gabriele and Teresina Capone were immigrants from Naples when they arrived in the United States in 1894 along with their three sons. Unlike most of the immigrants that came to the United States, Gabriele could read and write allowing him to get a job in a grocery store where he worked till he was able to open his own barber shop. Despite what has been portrayed to be believed about them, after five years in the United States, Gabriele and Teresina gave birth to their first child to be conceived and born in the United States, her fourth son, Alphonse Capone. Born on January 17, 1899, in Brooklyn New York, he was their all-American kid. "I'm no Italian. I was born in Brooklyn," he would later brag. ( ) The Capone boys kept arriving, three more in rapid sequence, before his mother finally had two girls. She then focused on the girls, letting the seven Capone sons raise themselves. Also called Scarface and/or Al Capone, Alphonse Capone would grow to be known as the most notorious American gangster of his time.

Capone and his family lived in a cold water apartment building at 95 Navy Street, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the slum of Brooklyn. Gabriele worked hard in an effort to make a better life for him and his family. They were a quiet conventional family with no violent or dishonesty in the household. He moved the family twice to better neighborhoods where they displayed no special kinship for crime. In May of 1906, Gabriele became an American citizen and Alphonse became Al.

At 19, Al met a beautiful 21-year-old Irish girl, Mary "Mae" Coughlin. She had a high school diploma and worked in a department store. She also almost immediately became pregnant. Al didn't marry Mae; however, until after she gave birth to Albert Francis "Sonny" Capone, on December 4, 1918. Even then, it took a draft registration notice for the 19-year-old kid to fully realize he wanted a wife. At the time, nobody recognized that Sonny Capone suffered from congenital syphilis, which would always leave him in ill health. Later, both father and son would pay a high price for Al's first, untreated dose of the clap.


Alfonse maintained a B average until sixth grade when his grades began to deteriorate rapidly. While working as a shoeshine boy, a gang of kids wrecked his shoeshine chair, the young Alphonse complained to the police. The cops' deep lack of interest clearly showed Alphonse that the law was not on his side. From that moment, he knew that his success was up to him alone.

For approximately six years he worked faithfully at exceptionally boring jobs, first at a munitions factory and then as a paper cutter. He was a good boy, well behaved and sociable. Bergreen writes,

You didn't hear stories about Al Capone practicing with guns; you heard that he went home each night to his mother. Al was something of a nonentity, affable, soft of speech and even mediocre in everything but dancing. (Crime)

At the age of 14, when his sixth-grade female teacher hit

him, Alphonse retaliated by hitting her back and got expelled. (Bardsley 2000)

His family decided to move to a new neighborhood and Alphonse said good-bye to school forever and said hello to organized crime. ( )


The sixth grade dropout quickly found work with the suave Johnny Torrio, head of one of the East Coast's most successful criminal empires. Torrio gave his young protÐ"©gÐ"© a "cover" job that paid three dollars a week, and told him not to tell his parents what he really did. His curfew every night at home was 10:30. He was now a part of Torrio’s James Street Boys gang (eventually becoming the Five Points Gang). This soon led to Al involvement in Torrios’ numbers racketeering. He brought back more money



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