In 1919, the American Congress
introduced prohibition, which made it
 illegal to make or  sell alcohol in the
U.S.A. Supporters of Prohibition said
that alcohol caused lots of moral and
social problems. They described men
who worked badly because of alcohol,
drank their salaries in bars and were
violent to other drinkers, and to their
wives and children. But Prohibition
was unpopular with many ordinary
people. Gangsters started making
and selling alcohol in illegal shops
and bars called 'speakeasies '.

Alphonse Capone was born in
Brooklyn, New York, in 1899. When
he was a teenager, he joined a gang.
He moved to Chicago in 1919, and
soon he was the boss of the biggest
gang there . His illegal distilleries, bars
and gambling operations made a
hundred million dollars a year. Of
course, he had to spend a lot of money
to corrupt officials like policemen,
judges and politicians. But he was also

very generous sometimes. When
people had no jobs in the Depression, he
opened a restaurant to give them free

But he was most famous for cruelty. If
someone caused him problems, his
gang simply killed them. On 14 February
1929, seven members of a rival gang
were killed. It was never proved that
Capone was responsible, but everyone
thought he was, and they were terrified
of him.

In 1931, Capone was arrested for tax evasion. Ironically, American law said
that you had to make a tax declaration
for all the money you made (legal or
illegal). Capone was careful to have no
illegal money in his name, but he didn't
send in his tax  forms. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He spent most of it in the famous Alcatraz prison near San Francisco. He died
soon  after he left prison.


Gambling (n) : trying to make money in casinos
Depression (n) : period in the 1930’s when it was difficult to find a job

 Abridged from EASY GOING  N° 1 - 2006 NATHAN