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Al Capone, also known as ‘Scarface’, was one of the most famous American gangsters. He was the leader of the Chicago Outfit during the Prohibition era. He was sent to Alcatraz prison in 1934 for tax evasion. He died in 1947 in Miami, Florida, and his name has been immortalized in many movies and books.
Early Life in New York
- Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 17 1899 to a poor family from Italy who came to America for a better life. His father, Gabriele Capone, was a barber while his mother, Teresa Capone, worked as a seamstress.
- Gabriele and Teresa arrived in New York in 1894 from Italy together with their two sons, Vincenzo and Raffaele. The Capone family were law-abiding citizens living in a tenement.
- Capone was a student in a Catholic institution. He was a promising student but was expelled at the age of 14. His teacher had hit him for impudence and he struck back.
- The Capones moved to a better home in Park Slope in Brooklyn. It was here where he would meet his future wife, Mary ‘Mae’ Coughlin, and his mob mentor, Johnny Torrio
- Johnny “Papa Johnny” Torrio was Al Capone’s greatest influence in the world of racketeering. Capone became involved with gangs such as the Junior Forty Thieves and the Bowery Boys. Later on, he joined the Brooklyn Rippers then the powerful Five Points Gang led by Paul Kelly.
- In 1909, Torrio moved to Chicago to assist in a brothel business. Despite this, the two remained close and Torrio even introduced Capone to Frankie Yale, a gangster who employed Capone as a bartender and bouncer in Coney Island’s Harvard Inn. It was here that Capone was involved in a scrape which earned him the nickname ‘Scarface’. Capone made an indecent remark to a woman and her brother punched and slashed him across his left cheek.
Marriage and Family
- At the age of 19, Capone married Mary ‘Mae’ Coughlin on December 30, 1918. Coughlin was an Irish Catholic and, weeks before their wedding, she gave birth to their son, Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone. Johnny Torrio was the godfather.
- Capone and his family moved to Baltimore to turn over a new leaf. He worked as a bookkeeper in a construction company.
- When Capone’s father died due to heart attack in 1920, Torrio asked Capone to join him in Chicago, and he accepted the offer.
- Torrio’s name was big in businesses related to gambling and prostitution. Prior to this, Torrio, who was working for the crime boss James “Big Jim” Colosimo, hired Capone as an enforcer. After Colosimo’s death on May 11, 1920, Torrio took over the empire. Rumor has it that Torrio hired Capone and Frankie Yale to kill Colosimo.
- When the 18th amendment was enacted and prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol, Torrio shifted to bootlegging operations. Torrio made Capone his co-manager in the business because of his skills with numbers from being a former bookkeeper.
- Capone was reputed as a troublemaker. His first imprisonment was when he hit a parked taxicab due to DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol). Torrio used his political connections to free him.
- When Capone’s family moved to Chicago, he bought a house in the middle-class Park Manor neighborhood in South Side.
- Capone moved his headquarters to the Metropole Hotel in downtown Chicago and began living a luxurious lifestyle. His business’ annual revenue was estimated by the newspapers at around $100 million.
- Capone was compared to Robin Hood due to his generous personality and his working on the side of the masses. He donated a large amount of money to charities and even opened a soup kitchen later on during the Depression in 1931.
- In 1926, Capone ordered his men to shoot and kill two of his sworn enemies in Cicero. The ‘hanging prosecutor’, William McSwiggin, who has tried to prosecute Capone previously, was with the two men. The three men were gunned down and it led to a public outcry for justice. No evidence was presented involving Capone. Instead, the police raided Capone’s business and collected documents which would be used to charge Capone with income tax evasion.
- Capone called for a ‘Peace Conference’ with the criminals and they agreed to stop the violence, which only lasted for two months.St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
- In 1929, Capone was linked to the attempted assassination of his long-time rival ‘Bugs’ Moran, the leader of the North Side gang, and with ordering the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
- Moran had previously attempted to assassinate Capone and Torrio and was later after Capone’s top hit man, ‘Machine Gun’ Jack McGurn.
- Posing as police, McGurn’s gunmen assassinated seven of Moran’s men in in a North Side garage on February 14, 1929.
- Moran was alerted and escaped the slaughter. The public blamed Capone for the massacre and he was given the name ‘Public Enemy Number One’, although he was staying in Miami at the time.
- President Herbert Hoover ordered the federal government to arrest Capone because of income tax evasion.
- In 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled that revenue from illegal operations was taxable. This gave the government a compelling case against Capone.
- By June 5, 1931, Capone was indicted on 22 counts of income tax evasion. Capone struck a plea bargain for a two-and-a-half-year imprisonment but the judge did not honor the bargain. His case went to trial and he used bribery to sway the proceedings. The court switched to a new jury and Capone was found guilty and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment.
- For two years, Capone was imprisoned in a federal prison in Atlanta. In 1934, he was moved to Alcatraz, when he was caught bribing guards.
Capone’s health condition began to decline. He has previously contracted syphilis when he worked as a bartender in Chicago and, in the prison, he suffered from neurosyphilis which lead to dementia.
- In 1939, Capone was released to Johns Hopkins Hospital, a mental hospital, in Baltimore and he stayed there for three years.
- Capone died from a cardiac arrest on January 25, 1947, in his house on Palm Island in Miami, Florida, surrounded by his wife and family. He was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.
- The Chicago Daily Tribune’s Guy Murchie Jr. stated that 33 people died due to Al Capone’s illegal activities. The New York Times even used the headline ‘End of an Evil Dream’ when Capone died. Capone’s name has been immortalized in movies and books inspired by his life as the infamous gangster, ‘Scarface’.
Al Capone Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Al Capone Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Al Capone, also known as ‘Scarface’, who was one of the most famous American gangsters. He was the leader of the Chicago Outfit during the Prohibition era.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Al Capone Facts
- Al Capone Word Search
- Did It Happen?
- Al Capone Crossword
- Al Capone Timeline
- Al Capone: Modern Day Robin Hood?
- Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre
- Method of Trial
- Two Faces of Al Capone
- Interview with Scarface
- Al Capone Acrostic
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Link will appear as Al Capone Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 4, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.