Bonnie And Clyde: The Crimes And Gangsters Of The 1930s
The Crimes and Gangsters of the 1930s
In the 1930s there was not much of a variation in the crimes that people committed. The main crime you would hear about would be either bank robbery or murder. Some of the most famous criminals at this time were Al Capone, Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and also Bonnie and Clyde. They all four committed similar crimes but they each had their own thing that made them as a criminal stand out.
Alphonse, or Al, Capone was an Italian gangster. His parents were immigrants that came from Naples to the US in the early 1880s. Al Capone was born in 1899, in Brooklyn New York.
They were very poor when he was a child so growing up he committed lots of petty crimes to help his family out. He would shoplift some, steal money from kids at school, and also learned how to pickpocket at the age of eight years old. When he got to be in high school he dropped out of school at fourteen for striking a teacher. He was at the age where he could have a job and make money himself. He had lots of odd jobs in his teen years. He worked at a soda shop, a hardware store, and also worked with mail.
When he reached the age of sixteen he ended up working for Johnny Torrio. He started to run small errands for him and slowly got caught in the world of being a mobster. When Torrio left for Chicago they stayed in touch and when he came back Torrio introduced Capone to Frankie Yale, who gave Capone both his first job as a bartender and bouncer, but also gave him his nickname “Scarface” when he struck him with a knife for insulting his daughter.
He was later involved in a bigger event of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. He and Jack McGurn posed as FBI agents and successfully assassinated 6 of Moran’s, their biggest competitor, men in a North Side garage. Moran however successfully escaped the attack and got to the public media and Capone was soon deemed public enemy number one. The police found him and he was put into Alcatraz for six years and when he got out he died only 3 months later of cardiac arrest on January 25, 1947 (History.com editors).
Another famous criminal at this time was a duo. The couple Bonnie and Clyde was very famous for their bank robberies and prison escapes. They met in Texas in 1930 at a prison. Bonnie was nineteen and married to an imprisoned murderer, while Clyde was twenty-one and single. Clyde was in jail for theft and had met Bonnie while imprisoned. Bonnie had smuggled him a gun and he soon escaped. They got away together and started their life of crime committing roughly thirteen murders and 20 bank robberies.
In 1932 they joined a gang with the famous “Gunman”. The gang included Bonnie, Clyde, Will Jones, Clyde’s brother, and Blanche which was Clyde’s brother’s wife. In the gang, they committed lots of murders and bold robberies. They always escaped from jail no matter when they were caught.
However, on November 22, 1933, a Dallas sheriff was determined to catch them and set up a trap. The trap was unsuccessful at first but not only a month away on December 21, 1933, the police finally caught them both. They escaped later that January and went into hiding. The police found them later that year in April and they were shot and killed (FBI).
The last main criminal is Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Arthur grew up in a very poor home in Oklahoma and would commit petty crimes as a child in order to help his parents. As he grew up he got more into stealing and committed lots of bank robberies. He was very popular with the people for being famous for destroying mortgage papers during his robberies. Some even called him, “The Robin Hood of Cookson Hills.” He was committing a bolder robbery when officials almost caught him and he started to fire. He barely escaped and the officials later found him hiding in a cornfield outside of town and he was shot to death by an FBI agent.
Although the main crime of this time was to rob banks all of these criminals had something that made their life of crime theirs. Capone as a Mobster, Bonnie and Clyde were dynamic duo known for escaping, and Pretty Boy was popular with the public for helping them out with his crimes. All of these people may seem bad, but they will always be an important part of our American History (Biography.com editors)
- Biography.com editors, “Charles Pretty Boy Floyd.” Biography.com
- www.biography.com/people/charles-pretty-boy-floyd-9542085 Accessed 14 March 2019.
- “Bonnie and Clyde”, FBI, www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/bonnie-and-clyde Accessed 12 March 2019
- History.com editors, “St. Valentine’s day massacre.” History, A&E Television Networks, 9
- November 2009, www.history.com/topics/crime/saint-valentines-day-massacre Accessed 7 March 2019.