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American Gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s

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Profiles

  • Meyer Lansky (c.1902 - 1983)
    Meyer Lansky (born Meyer Suchowljansky;[1] July 4, 1902 – January 15, 1983), known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a major organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" L...
  • Emory Connell (b. - 1924)
    Emory Connell and “Diamond Joe” Sullivan were captured and arrested for numerous crimes, the worst being the murder of an Oklahoma police officer by Connell, and the murders of Sgt. Moore...
  • “Diamond Joe” Sullivan (b. - 1924)
    Jewel thief "Diamond Joe" Sullivan was convicted of murder in 1924 and was executed after a failed escape attempt. “Diamond Joe” Sullivan and Emory Connell were captured and arrested fo...
  • Volney Davis (1902 - 1979)
    Volney Everett "Curley" Davis (January 29, 1902 – July 20, 1979) was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw. A longtime Oklahoma bandit, he was the boyfriend of Edna Murray and an a...
  • Edna "Rabbit" Murray (1898 - 1966)
    Edna "Rabbit" Murray (1898–1966) was a criminal associated with several high-profile gangs in the Depression-era of the early 1930s. Although popularly known to the press as the "Kissing Ban...

Scope of project

This project seeks to identify American gangsters during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 1930s.

Overview

A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang; some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called “mobsters,” a term is derived from "mob" and the suffix "-ster."

The terms "gangster" and "mobster" are mostly used in the United States to refer to members of criminal organizations associated with Prohibition or with an American offshoot of the Italian Mafia (such as the Chicago Outfit, the Philadelphia Mafia, or the Five Families). Gangsters have been depicted in American popular culture in films such as The Godfather, War, Hell Up in Harlem, Scarface, and Goodfellas, and in television shows (e.g.,The Sopranos).

History

As American society and culture developed, new immigrants were relocating to the United States. The first major gangs in 19th century New York City were the Irish gangs such as the Whyos and the Dead Rabbits, followed by the Italian Five Points Gang and later a Jewish gang known as the Monk Eastman Gang. There were also "nativist" anti-immigration gangs such as the Bowery Boys.

Prohibition

The stereotypical image and myth of the American gangster is closely associated with organized crime during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 1930s. In 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption. Many gangs sold alcohol illegally for tremendous profit, and used acute violence to stake turf and protect their interest. Often, police officers and politicians were paid off or extorted to ensure continued operation.

Suggested reading

Pileggi, Nicholas. Wiseguy. (1986). Pocket Books.

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