Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933. During the 19th century, alcoholism, family violence, and saloon-based political corruption prompted activists, led by pietistic Protestants, to end the alcoholic beverage trade to cure the ill society and weaken the political opposition. One result was that many communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries introduced alcohol prohibition, with the subsequent enforcement in law becoming a hotly debated issue. Prohibition supporters, called drys, presented it as a victory for public morals and health.
Al Capone is indicted in what investigators at the time termed the greatest prohibition conspiracy case ever.
Capone initially became involved with small-time gangs that included the Junior Forty Thieves and the Bowery Boys. He then joined the Brooklyn Rippers. Capone inadvertently insulted a woman while working the door at a Brooklyn night club and was slashed by her brother Frank Gallucio. The wounds led to the nickname that Capone loathed: "Scarface". Yale insisted that Capone apologize to Gallucio, and Capone later hired him as his bodyguard. When he was photographed, Capone hid the scarred left side of his face, saying that the injuries were war wounds. Capone was called "Snorky", a term for a sharp dresser, by his closest friends.
Al Capone had many quotes. He always said in them that having a gun makes everything better. He quotes, "You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun."
In May 1929, Capone went to a "gangsters" conference in Atlantic City. Afterwards he saw a movie in Philadelphia. When leaving the cinema he was arrested and imprisoned for carrying a concealed weapon. Capone was soon incarcerated in the Eastern Penitentiary where he stayed until March 16, 1930. He was later released from jail for good behavior. On October 6, 1931, fourteen detectives escorted Capone to the Federal Court Building. He was dressed in a conservative blue serge suit and without his usual pinkie ring and gaudy jewellery. It was inevitable that Capone's henchmen procured a list of jury members to bribe, but unbeknownst to Capone, the authorities had been aware of the plot. When Judge Wilkinson entered the courtroom he suddenly demanded that the jury be exchanged with another in the same building. Capone and his lawyer were shocked. The fresh jury were even sequestered at night so that the Capone mob couldn't get to them.
Alphonse Capone (1899–1947) was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of recent Italian immigrants Gabriele and Teresina Capone. A poor family that came to America seeking a better life, the Capones and their eight children lived a typical immigrant lifestyle in a New York tenement. Capone’s father was as a barber, and his mother was a seamstress. There was nothing in Capone’s childhood or family life that could have predicted his rise to infamy as America’s most notorious gangster. Capone started his life of crime at a young age. Rumored to have started pimping prostitutes before reaching puberty, he was raised on the tough streets of Brooklyn and earned extra money as a bouncer in various brothels.
About 1920, at Torrio’s invitation, Capone joined Torrio in Chicago where he had become an influential lieutenant in the Colosimo mob. The rackets spawned by enactment of the Prohibition Amendment, illegal brewing, distilling and distribution of beer and liquor, were viewed as “growth industries.” Torrio, abetted by Al Capone, intended to take full advantage of opportunities. The mob also developed interests in legitimate businesses in the cleaning and dyeing field and cultivated influence with receptive public officials, labor unions, and employees’ associations. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on February 14, 1929, might be regarded as the culminating violence of the Chicago gang era, as seven members or associates of the “Bugs” Moran mob were machine-gunned against a garage wall by rivals posing as police. The massacre was generally ascribed to the Capone mob, although Al himself was in Florida.
On this day in 1931, gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s. He got out early in 1939 for good behavior, after spending his final year in prison in a hospital, suffering from syphilis. Plagued by health problems for the rest of his life, Capone died in 1947 at age 48 at his home in Palm Island, Florida.