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“This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.” –Al Capone. Al Capone and The Chicago Outfit. To begin….

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al capone and the chicago outfit

“This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.” –Al Capone

Al Capone and The Chicago Outfit

to begin
To begin…
  • Al Capone was the most powerful gangster to ever live, working his way up the ranks to eventually become the king of his own criminal empire. Capone was cunning, deceptive, ruthless, and willing to do whatever was necessary to stay on top.
alphonse gabriel capone
Alphonse Gabriel Capone
  • Born January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, NY
  • Son of Italian immigrants
  • Wife-Mae Josephine Coughlin, Son-Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone
  • Boss of the criminal organization known as the Chicago Outfit
  • Supplied the Chicago underworld with alcohol during the Prohibition Era
  • Most feared mobster of his time
al capone
Al Capone

One observation-”…a big fat man with a cigar and a $50,000 pinkie ring…a jowly smiling Satan…with two scars across his left cheek. He weighed over two-fifty, yet despite his bulk and the sloppy grin, he could move with lethal speed and force. Not an articulate man, he was nonetheless charismatic: warm, charming, generous. A big tipper” (Yancey 72).

early years
Early Years
  • Dropped out of school at the age of 14 after getting into a fistfight with his sixth grade teacher
  • Moved to 21 Garfield Place; in this neighborhood, he met his mentor Johnny Torrio, and his wife, Mae
  • Torrio was one of the most successful gangsters on the East Coast, and was a role model to many boys, including Al Capone
  • Capone started out as an errand boy for Torrio, but would eventually move up
  • At the same time, he would learn about how Torrio’s organization ran, and he would use this knowledge in the future when he took over for Torrio in Chicago later on
johnny torrio
Johnny Torrio

Johnny Torrio was the first of the modern gangsters. He ran his empire like a business, allowing it to expand as needed. Torrio was very organized and used his administrative skill to craft the most successful criminal organization on the East Coast. Torrio would lay the foundation for Capone’s rise to power in Chicago.

early years1
Early Years
  • After Torrio moved to Chicago in 1909, Capone would join up with a few street gangs: first the South Brooklyn Rippers, then the Forty Thieves Juniors, and then the Five Point Juniors
  • Few schools and churches had organizations for kids, so many kids would create their own clubs and get involved in crime
  • For the most part, Capone was a good kid who helped support his family while working at a munitions factory, and then as a paper cutter
  • When he was 18, Capone went to go work as a bartender for Frankie Yale, a violent Brooklyn gangster whose aggressive personality would rub off on the soft-spoken Capone
  • While working at the Harvard Inn, Yale’s bar, Capone made a lewd comment to a women eating at the restaurant with her brother
  • Her brother, Frank Gallucio, punched Capone, pulled out a knife and cut Capone’s face three times, leaving scars that would earn him the name “Scarface”
  • Capone was later forced to apologize to Gallucio
  • This experience taught Capone to restrain his temper when necessary, a quality he would have to use later if he were to be a successful crime boss
frankie yale
Frankie Yale

This is a NYPD mug shot of Frankie Yale. Capone would later give the order to have Yale killed for hijacking alcohol shipments from him. On July 1, 1928, Yale’s car was forced off the road by 4 men in a Buick sedan. His car was found riddled with machine gun bullets, marking the first time a Tommy gun was used in New York gangland warfare.

the transition
The Transition
  • After he married Mae and after the birth of his son, Capone decided to focus on a legitimate career, so he moved to Baltimore to work for a construction firm as a bookkeeper
  • On November 14, 1920, Gabriele Capone, Al’s father, died suddenly of heart disease at the age of 55
  • With the loss of his father, Capone turned to Torrio, who invited Capone to Chicago to take part in the criminal empire he was creating
  • In early 1921, Capone decided to accept Torrio’s offer.
living in chicago
Living in Chicago
  • Capone quickly moved from Torrio’s employee to his partner
  • In 1921, Capone took over as manager of the Four Deuces, which was a speakeasy ,whorehouse, and a gambling joint
  • At this time Capone also met one of his lifelong friends, Jack Guzick, a Jewish man with a lifestyle resembling Torrio’s
jack guzick
Jack Guzick

Guzick was a devoted family man who acted as a big brother to Capone. Capone’s friendship with Guzick showcased his ability to ignore racial prejudices and to create alliances outside of the Italian community, which would aid him greatly in the future.

capone takes over cicero
Capone takes over Cicero
  • After an unsuccessful attempt on his life, Torrio decided to give up running the organization, and handed over his power to Capone
  • After the reform-minded William E. Denver took over as mayor of Chicago, ousting the corrupt mayor “Big Bill” Thompson, it became much more difficult to continue day to day operations in the city
  • Capone moved the operation to Cicero, where he could take over the government and work unrestrained
  • He installed his older brother, Frank, as the front man of the Cicero government
  • Capone used threats, kidnapping, and violence to fix elections, such as the election of 1924
  • On election day, the Chicago PD cornered Frank Capone and shot him to death in retaliation of Al’s escalation of violence
  • Capone escalated the violence again, leading to stolen ballot boxes and one dead official
  • Capone took Cicero, but at the cost of his brother’s life
murder and the hanging prosecutor
Murder and “the hanging prosecutor”
  • Jack Guzick was assaulted by Joe Howard, a small time criminal, after Guzick turned him down for a loan
  • Guzick told Capone this, and Capone went after Howard, tracking him down in a bar, where Capone shot him dead
  • William H. McSwiggin, “the hanging prosecutor,” was not able to convict Capone of murder because the witnesses suddenly forgot what had happened when they appeared at the trial
  • Capone used his power to get away with murder, but the attention it brought to him would only continue to get stronger
capone the king of chicago
Capone-The King of Chicago
  • When Capone inherited Torrio’s empire, Capone’s power grew substantially, unmatched by anyone
  • Capone moved his headquarters to the Metropole hotel, which cost him $1,500 a day for a five room suite
  • He used his persona to gain favorable public opinion, appearing at public events and, of course, supplying everyone with alcohol
  • “All I’ve done is supply a public demand. They say I violated the prohibition law. Who doesn’t?” –Al Capone
the st valentines day massacre
The St. Valentines Day Massacre
  • Because of ongoing problems and competition with George “Bugs” Moran and his north side gang, Capone decided it was time to take them out
  • From his home in Palm Island, FL, where he moved after the political heat and pressure from the Chicago PD became too much, he and Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn planned an elaborate hit on the leaders of Moran’s gang
  • Fred “Killer” Burke, James Ray, John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi pretended to be police, and busted Moran’s gang at the garage where a whiskey deal was supposed to be taking place
  • As told, Moran’s gang lined up against a wall, and with their own guns, they were murdered, all except Frank Gusenburg, who was still breathing after the shooting
  • The men then walked out, two acting like they were the bootleggers, and the other two acting as police officers, and got into a stolen police car and drove off
the st valentines day massacre1
The St. Valentines Day Massacre
  • The main target, “Bugs” Moran was not at the scene, having seen the police car before hand and took off
  • The man left alive, Frank Gusenburg, was still alive when the police found him, but he refused to say who shot him, and he died a short while later
  • Everyone knew it was Capone who had set up the hit, but because there was no proof, and because he was so far away, it was impossible to implicate him as the mastermind of the plot
the st valentines day massacre2
The St. Valentines Day Massacre

This is a photo from the assassination of Moran’s north side gang. No one was ever charged with the murders because both suspects, Capone and McGurn, had perfect alibis.

the blonde alibi
“The Blonde Alibi”

George McGurn used his wife, Louise Rolf, to cover up his involvement in the plot of The St. Valentines Day Massacre. Then his girlfriend, he checked into a hotel the day of the assassination. Later on, he married Rolf so she would not be able to testify against him in court.

capone arrested and on trial
Capone arrested and on trial
  • In May, 1929, Capone was arrested in Philadelphia, PA on suspicion of tax evasion
  • At the trial, Capone first attempted a guilty plea, but the judge James Wilkerson stated, “It is time for somebody to impress upon the defendant that it is utterly impossible to bargain with a federal court.”
  • Capone then tried to fix the jury with threats and bribes, but when the prosecution found out, they switched the jury, to Capone’s surprise
  • On October 17, 1931, Capone was found guilty on some counts of tax evasion, and was sentenced to eleven years in prison, plus fines and court fees
life in and after prison
Life in and after prison
  • Capone was originally sent to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, but once word got out that he was living better than the other prisoners thanks to extra clothes, food, and special treatment, he was sent to Alcatraz in August, 1934 to finish his sentence
  • Capone had contracted syphilis early on in his life, and now it began to attack his brain and nervous system, leaving him confused and disoriented
  • He was released from prison in November 1939, and was taken to a hospital in Baltimore, where he was treated until March of 1940
  • Al Capone died of cardiac arrest on January 25, 1947 at the age of 48
al capone s grave
Al Capone’s grave

Al Capone was originally buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery on the South Side of Chicago, along with his father, Gabriel and brother, Frank. The three were then moved in March of 1950 to Mount Carmel Cemetery on the West Side.

impact on society
Impact on Society
  • His character has been played and parodied numerous times by many different people
  • Capone image is used to depict the stereotypical American Gangster: his style of dress, mannerisms, accent, and physical stature have all been copied to create this image
  • Capone’s image has grown so large that he is recognizable all over the world in many different cultures
in conclusion
In conclusion…
  • Al Capone was the most feared criminal of his time. He amassed so much power that he became a celebrity and public enemy number one. His presence will never be forgotten, and his iconic image continues on in American society, and around the world, today.