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Criminal Figures Of The Twenties Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

"I'm leaving for St. Petersburg, Florida, tomorrow. Let the worthy citizens of Chicago get their liquor the best they can. I'm sick of the job. It's a thankless one and full of grief....I've been spending the best years of my life as a public benefactor" (Torricelli 85). As Capone himself accurately describes, his job was seen as one of a "benefactor" whereby he produced a much-desired commodity withheld by the government. Consequential to the institution of prohibition during the twenties, the consummation of a marriage between crime lord and citizen occurred. For the first major time during American history, the average man and the criminal became co-conspirators against an overly oppressive government, made manifest by the likes of Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, and Pretty Boy Floyd. These crime figures of the twenties were hoisted by society to iconic positions, revealing a profound detachment between the citizenry and the government.Only shortly after Alphonse Capone began his professional career, society became, and still remains, entranced. Upwards of fifteen motion pictures and video documentaries have been created about him. His name and fame have appeared in excess books, newspapers, and magazines since the apex of his success in racketeering in Chicago. However, Capone entered one specific, cathartic reclusion that acted as a springboard for social embracement. After accidentally having a young prosecutor killed, the public cried for Capone's blood and he was forced into hiding during the summer months. Here, at the nadir of his career, he began to think of himself as "benefactor" to the masses and an icon for Italian immigrants wishing to move up in status. Therefore, when Capone returned to the public's attention, he surrendered to the police for the prosecutor case (but conviction was prevented by a lack of evidence). In order to purify the reputations of the Chicago-based gangsters, Capone convened a meeting of the local crime bosses to petition them to refrain from killings or beatings and to avoid avenging any deaths henceforth. This successful criminal conference led to a higher public opinion of the racketeers that was incarnated by the election of a Mayor highly backed by dollars from organized crime just shortly after the conference (Bardsley). Public opinion was clear: if the mobsters can safely carry on their business, fighting Prohibition essentially, then their actions will not only be condoned but also electorally endorsed.A title generally associated with bank robbers of the twenties and thirties is "Robin Hood" though it is used especially in connection with John Dillinger. After the zenith of the roaring twenties came the nadir of the great depression, bringing poverty and a strong feeling of discontent towards the banking system. Banks, large and small alike, would close down, wiping out the saved assets of their clients. Those still in business would foreclose on clients' homes and...

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