Al Capone, the Emperor of Bootlegging

A quintessential aspect of empire is a key figurehead that represents the ambitions and ideology of the empire. While the Roman Empire had their Caesars and the British have their royal families, the criminal empire in Chicago Illinois known as the “Chicago Outfit” had their boss, most famous/ infamous being Alphonsus “Al” Capone . Born in Brooklyn 1899, the iconic bootlegger and mobster began his criminal life at an early age and progressed from joining his local street gang to leading one of the most profitable smuggling operations and crime syndicates in the twentieth century.

Al Capone's mug shot, 1931.

Fun Fact: After being assaulted in a bar and being severely cut on the face, Al Capone got the name “Scarface” from the eventual scars that resulted from the attack.

His successful actions as a mob boss and his popularity made Al Capone one of the most iconic historical figures to emerge from the Age of Prohibition.Al Capone’s progression into becoming the leader of a  “Bootlegging Empire” illustrates a similar ambition to that of an aspiring emperor leading an imperialistic empire to achieve greater power and fortune. Al Capone would not only amass an impressive fortune but also a strong political influence to further his lucrative business. Al Capone’s extremely profitable bootlegging buisness would also serve as the foundation for future territorial and market expansions. While Al Capone managed to amass the power and wealth of an empire through his successful smuggling, what had made this Chicago gangster such an influential figure was his ability to maintain a rather positive celebrity-like status with the american people similar to how Caesar Augustus managed to gain the respect and support of those he ruled over.

Al Capone’s vast Bootlegging Empire gave him not only riches but also a certain amount of political power that allowed the gangster to manipulate government officials and easily avoid capture for years.

For the leader of an empire to become successful he must maintain a popular standing among the people he rules in order to prevent possible rebellion. Al Capone not only remained in the public’s good grace but he also established himself as a “guardian of Chicago” with numerous charitable  deeds to the people of Chicago. From providing milk to schoolchildren to opening numerous soup kitchens for those struggling during the Great Depression. These charitable actions are not uncommon as the Roman Empire used similar methods such as building public bathhouses and roads to gain the full-hearted support of all citizens.

This was one of many soup kitchens that Al Capone had established to feed the hungry during the Great Depression.

With money, power, and status this one time two-bit gangster became one of the most powerful and popular figureheads in the United States. He ruled his criminal empire with an efficiency and ruthlessness that was unparalleled for his time and expanded an empire of illegal operations that would have a lasting impact for decades. This emperor of bootlegging would cement himself as a legend for such a dramatic time in American history.


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