The Rise And Fall of An American Gangster

September 13, 2011
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“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” These words were spoken by Alphonse Gabriel “Scarface” Capone, the most malicious mobster in the history of America. Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 17, 1899 to two Italian immigrants. Capone was an American Gangster that rose to power during the Prohibition era when the Unites States banned the production and sale of liquor. The following life story of Capone is one to learn from. Turning to gangs for help will not solve anything. It will only hurt innocent people, and family. Capone lived with bad influences in his early life, then trying to change for the better, and finally living until an abrupt end of his dark life.
In Capone’s early life, his parents wished only the best for him and his nine other siblings. He was a well behaved teen, and did well academically in school. The same was predicted in his documentary, “There was nothing in Capone’s childhood or family life that could have predicted his rise to infamy as America’s most notorious gangster” (Famous Cases & Criminals). It soon ended when he was falling behind in school and decided to socialize with rebels. One day in school he disobeyed a teacher and she struck him. He retaliated by hitting her in the face. Capone was sent to the principal’s office and was given a beating. After that, he vowed to never return to school, marking the beginning of his rise and fall as an American gangster. Lost in society as an outcast, he turned to the gangs in his neighborhood to ease his regretful failure in school. He met Johnny Torrio, the man whom he considered his mentor, and ran errands for him as a young boy. Torrio was a gangster and ran illegal gambling houses. It was an advantage for the police which was stated in the novel, “Since Capone and Torrio were such huge criminals, the law enforcement contributed to American society to find a way to stop them.” (Forbes Novel) Almost on the verge of being investigated, Torrio fled the country and left his power to Capone, but he denied the inheritance after realizing the danger of running an illegal business. Capone wasn’t a born killer, he was badly influenced to lead this lifestyle because of his decisions and the people he surrounded himself with. Others think of him as a demon with no soul or heart, but this leads to his change of mind as he sees the consequences in being a mobster.
Capone married Mae Josephine Coughlin, weeks after the birth of their first son, Albert Francis Capone. His right doing is supported by this quote, “Now a husband and a father, Capone wanted to do right by his family so he moved to Baltimore and took an honest job as a bookkeeper.” (Al Capone) He lived an easy life for a few years as his son grew, but that happy segment of his life ended when his father died of a heart attack. The death of Capone’s father affected his mentality severely. Forgetting right from wrong, Torrino returned to America and when he invited Capone to Chicago for business in gambling and prostitution, he jumped at the opportunity ignoring his new family’s welfare. The duo took over the streets of Chicago. Being one step closer to getting total control of the city, they bribed the running mayor to work with them once he was elected. “On the day of the election, they tried intimidating the voters to guarantee their candidate to be elected, some being brutally gunned down and others killed.” (Famous Cases & Criminals) Chicago sent police to respond, resulting in the death of Capone’s brother. Torrio left the business again to return to Italy, leaving the power to become the head of the Mafia to Capone. He wanted revenge against the city of Chicago for the death of his brother. Capone is well known by the incident known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Rivals wanted a share in Capone’s business, but he wouldn’t give up his profits without a fight. As he ate at a restaurant, Capone and his men were fired upon. Intending to kill him and his mob, the rivals missed and hit several families and children. Feeling sympathetic, he decided to pay for the bills and funerals of the families. Still wanting to run the businesses and to keep fighting for it after the massacre, he ignored his mentor’s advice to maintain a profile, leading to even bigger problems. People can learn from this by not making a situation worse than it already is, either leave the problem alone, or have a bigger authority fix it.
The downfall of Capone was one that made history, working for the people, going to jail, and suffering from a fatal disease. People saw him as a hero, for example when a bystander “In the beginning, the public glamorized Capone’s activities and identified him as a modern day Robin Hood.” (Famous Cases & Criminals) Capone was in full control during the Prohibition era. The United States government approved the eighteenth amendment. It was a law preventing the making, sale and transport of liquor. The citizens of Chicago were mad about the prohibition and were willing to break the law to get their hands on alcohol. Capone took advantage of their attitude and gained profit from it. “He garnered media attention, to which his favorite responses were, ‘I am just a business man, and all I do is satisfy a public demand’ or ‘I make money by supplying a public demand. If I break the law, my customers, some of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as me’, Capone had become a celebrity. (Forbes Novel) Capone’s stardom ended when he was arrested for tax evasion. He was sentenced to jail for four years. Jail life was not easy for Al Capone. He got into fights, he was stabbed with a pair of shears, was wanted dead by many in jail. Capone contracted syphilis while before he was released in November 1939. His mentality had deteriorated and he had one of a twelve year old child. He died of a stroke on January 1947, having killed Eddie O’Hare the man who had put him in jail, before he died. Capone wasn’t all that bad of a man. He helped the people repeal the law of the prohibition, and he quenched their addiction for alcohol. The life story of Capone is one to learn from. Turning to gangs for help will not solve anything. It will only hurt innocent people, and family. Capone lived with bad influences in his early life, then trying to change for the better, and finally living until an abrupt end of his dark life. The overall significance of Capone’s life would be fighting for the justice of the people, and wanting to be treated as an equal by gaining respect from others other than being disliked. Lessons learned would be that one should look for help and listen to other people’s advice to keep from getting in trouble. Also, taking a bad route in life can lead to a worse path or a better one, depending on what the person makes of the situation.





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