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Prohibition - 1 In the early 20th century the rise of...

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1 In the early 20 th century, the rise of alcoholism was becoming an alarming problem. When the government stepped in and passed the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the sale of alcohol except for religious purposes, gangsters in many big cities saw an opportunity to make money off the average person’s alcohol needs. The escalating war to be a smuggler led to escalating violence, between police and the moonshine runners and the gangsters amongst themselves. After the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment, it soon became apparent that the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol would not go away quickly. An unintentional result of the Prohibition movement was the wide-spread takeover of underground liquor business by large gangs-from brewing and distilling to rum-running and blind-pig (illegal bars) management. Once legal liquor establishments were closed down, the market was thrown wide open for fearless men who weren’t scared of jail or death if the reward was wealth. 1 With the ratification of Prohibition, gangsters were poised to gain an exponential amount of wealth. After all, these were men who’s adult lives had been a constant stream of greasing politicians hands and arguing against reformers. Bribery and propaganda were two very good skills for the heads of the gangs to use when the opportunity presented itself. 2 In the transition days of the Prohibition Era, as the movement was first getting passed, gangsters “fronted” for legitimate owners, acting as both runner and protector of the owner. However, as Prohibition became wide-spread, and finally national, violence began to escalate. More and more, small-time gangsters who worked for larger organizations were encroaching on one another’s territories; fighting broke out over lordship of whole cities or even just parts of them. 3 1
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One of the central figures of gang warfare was Al Capone. Capone, leader of the aptly named“Chicago Outfit”, controlled large parts of the Chicago underworld during the ‘20s, including speakeasies, bookies, gambling houses, brothels, horse and race tracks, nightclubs, distilleries, and breweries, reportedly making over a hundred million dollars a year. Capone could kill easily; he ordered dozens of deaths and even killed with his own hands. Warring with George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side gang, Capone’s most notorious killing was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. On February 14, 1929, four of Capone’s men entered a garage at 2122 North Clark Street. The building was the main headquarters for Moran’s bootlegging in Chicago. Because two of Capone’s men were dressed as police officers, Moran’s men threw up their hands and faced the wall. Using two shot guns and two machine guns, the Capone boys pumped 150 bullets into the seven victims. Six of the seven were members of Moran’s men; the
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