Prohibition: Robert St. John - about his personal contact with Al Capone (00:04:29)
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Prohibition: Robert St. John - about his personal contact with Al Capone

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Location and time:

United States, Chicago, Illinois, 1999


Robert St. John, a journalist and prolific author was beaten by Al Capone's thugs, wounded by Nazis in the Balkans and competed against Edward R. Murrow in London.
Mr. St. John, who wrote 23 books, worked for many news organizations before losing his NBC job in the Red Scare of the 50's and becoming a full-time author. He was an old-fashioned reporter who banged out his books with two fingers on a manual typewriter.

His steel nerves were apparent in NBC's New York studio in the last hours of World War II. The network rang five bells to signify big news, 10 for something earthshakingly important.

In an interview with National Public Radio in 2001, he recalled the scene that day: ''I am sitting in the broadcasting booth talking to the entire NBC network when suddenly I hear the bells.''

He stalled until he heard six rings. ''Ladies and gentlemen, World War II is over,'' he announced without waiting further. ''The Japanese have agreed to our surrender terms.''

In 1919, the requisite number of legislatures of the States ratified The 18th Amendment to the Federal Constitution, enabling national Prohibition within one year of ratification. Many women, notably the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, had been pivotal in bringing about national Prohibition in the United States of America, believing it would protect families, women and children from the effects of abuse of alcohol.

Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. Federal Prohibition agents (police) were given the task of enforcing the law.

Even though the sale of alcohol was illegal, alcoholic drinks were still widely available at "speakeasies" and other underground drinking establishments. Many people also kept private bars to serve their guests. Large quantities of alcohol were smuggled in from Canada, overland and via the Great Lakes.

While the government cracked down on alcohol consuption on land it was a different story on the water where they argued that ships outside the 3 mile limit were exempt. Needless to say, this technicality was exploited by everyone including the State owned shipping line.

Legal and illegal home brewing was popular during Prohibition. Limited amounts of wine and hard cider were permitted to be made at home. Some commercial wine was still produced in the U.S., but was only available through government warehouses for use in religious ceremonies, mainly for communion. "Malt and hop" stores popped up across the country and some former breweries turned to selling malt extract syrup, ostensibly for baking and "beverage" purposes.

Whiskey could be obtained by prescription from medical doctors. The labels clearly warned that it was strictly for medicinal purposes and any other uses were illegal, but even so doctors freely wrote prescriptions and drug-stores filled them without question, so the number of "patients" increased dramatically. No attempt was made to stop this practice, so many people got their booze this way. Over a million gallons were consumed per year through freely given prescriptions.

Because Prohibition banned only the manufacturing, sale, and transport - but not possession or consuming of alcohol, some people and institutions who had bought or made liquor prior to the passage of the 18th Amendment were able to continue to serve it throughout the prohibition period legally.

Even prominent citizens and politicians later admitted to having used alcohol during Prohibition. President Harding kept the White House well stocked with bootleg liquor, though, as a Senator, he had voted for Prohibition. This discrepancy between legality and actual practice led to widespread comtempt for authority. Over time, more people drank illegally and so money ended up in gangsters' pockets. Arguments raged over the effectiveness of prohibition. It appears to have been successful in some parts of the country but overall led to an increase in lawlessness.

Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) was an Italian-American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. Known as the "Capones", the group was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931.

Born in Brooklyn, New York to Italian immigrants, Capone became involved with gang activity at a young age after being expelled from school at age 14.[1] In his early twenties, he moved to Chicago to take advantage of a new opportunity to make money smuggling illegal alcoholic beverages into the city during Prohibition. He also engaged in various other criminal activities, including bribery of government figures and prostitution. Despite his illegitimate occupation, Capone became a highly visible public figure. He made various charitable endeavors using the money he made from his activities, and was viewed by many to be a "modern-day Robin Hood".[2]

However, Capone gained infamy when the public discovered his involvement in the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, which resulted in the death of seven of Capone's rival gang members.[3] Capone's reign ended when he was found guilty of tax evasion, and sent to federal prison. His incarceration included a stay at Alcatraz federal prison. In the final years of Capone's life, his mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly due to neurosyphilis, a disease which he had contracted several years before. On January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke.

Other languages: show / hide

Arabic :

الكحول، والمواطن، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، الولايات المتحدة، حظر، تخزين الكحول، وشرب الكحول، والنوادي الليلية، التقطير، الاتجار بعصابات التهريب، بوتليجير، عداء الروم، شواطئ، ال كابوني، آب روحي، وشريك، وشرطي، شيكاغو، الراعي المتنافسة، والألمانية، عصابة الحرب، القضاة الاتحاديين، سجن، والسجن، والصحافي، "روبرت سانت جون"، اتصالاته الشخصية مع ال كابوني،,

Bulgarian :

алкохол, гражданин, САЩ, Съединените щати, забрана, Стая за съхранение на алкохол, пиене на алкохол, нощни клубове, дестилерии, трафика банди, контрабанда, bootlegger, ром бегач, брегове, Ал Капоне, Кръстникът, съучастник, полицай, Чикаго, съперник, немски овчар, Gang война, федералните съдии, затвор, лишаване от свобода, журналист, Робер Сейнт Джон, неговия личен контакт с Ал Капоне, ,

Catalan :

l'alcohol, ciutadà, USA, Estats Units, prohibició, emmagatzematge d'alcohol, beure alcohol, discoteques, destil·leries, tràfic Quinquis, contraban, bootlegger, corredor de ROM, costes, Al Capone, padrí, còmplice, policia, Chicago, pastor alemany, rival, banda de la guerra, els jutges federals, presó, presó, periodista, Robert St. John, el seu contacte personal amb Al Capone, ,

Chinese Simplified :

酒精, 公民, 美国, 美国, 禁止, 酒精储存, 酒精饮料, 夜总会, 酒厂, 贩运团伙, 走私, 盗窃团伙, 朗姆酒跑者, 海岸, al capone, 教父, 同伙, 警察, 芝加哥, 竞争对手, 德国牧羊人, 帮派战争, 联邦法官, 监狱, 监禁, 记者, 罗伯特圣约翰, 他与 al capone 的个人接触, ,

Chinese Traditional :

酒精, 公民, 美國, 美國, 禁止, 酒精儲存, 酒精飲料, 夜總會, 酒廠, 販運團夥, 走私, 盜竊團夥, 朗姆酒跑者, 海岸, al capone, 教父, 同夥, 員警, 芝加哥, 競爭對手, 德國牧羊人, 幫派戰爭, 聯邦法官, 監獄, 監禁, 記者, 羅伯特聖約翰, 他與 al capone 的個人接觸, ,

Czech :

alkohol, občane, USA, Spojené státy, zákaz, skladování alkoholu, pití alkoholu, noční kluby, lihovary, obchodování s gangy, pašování, pašerák, Rum běžec, břehy, Al Capone, Kmotr, komplic, policista, Chicago, soupeř, německý ovčák, gang války, federální soudce, vězení, vězení, novinář, Robert St. John, jeho osobní kontakt s Al Capone, ,

Danish :

alkohol, borger, USA, USA, forbud, alkohol opbevaring, alkoholindtagelse, natklubber, destillerier, handel med bander, smugleri, Booties, Rum Runner, kyster, Al Capone, godfather, medskyldig, politimand, Chicago, rivaliserende, tysk hyrde, bande krigen, føderale dommere, fængsel, fængsling, journalist, Robert St. John, hans personlige kontakt med Al Capone, ,

Dutch :

alcohol, burger, USA, Verenigde Staten, verbod, alcohol opslag, alcohol drinken, nachtclubs, distilleerderijen, mensenhandel bendes, smokkel, bootlegger, Rum Runner, kusten, Al Capone, peetvader, medeplichtige, politieagent, Chicago, rivaal, Duitse herder, bende oorlog, federale rechters, gevangenis, gevangenisstraf, journalist, Robert St. John, zijn persoonlijk contact met Al Capone, ,

Estonian :

alkoholi, kodanik, USA, USA, keeld, alkoholi ladustamise, alkoholi joomine, ööklubid, alkoholitootjad, inimkaubandusega tegelevate jõukude, salakaubavedu, bootlegger, rummi jooksja, kalda, Al Capone, ristiisa, osavõtja, politseinik, Chicago, rivaal, saksa lambakoer, jõugu sõda ametlikult algab föderaalkohtunike, vangla, vangistus, ajakirjanik, Robert Jaani, Al Capone, tema isiklik kontakt,

Finnish :

alkoholi, kansalainen USA, Yhdysvallat, kielto, alkoholin varastointi, alkoholin juominen, yökerhot, tislaamot, ihmiskaupan jengit, salakuljetus, Piraatin puujalka, Rum Runner, rannat, Al Capone, Kummisetä, rikoskumppani, poliisi, Chicago, kilpailija, Saksan paimen, jengi sota, liittovaltion tuomarit, vankila, vankeutta, toimittaja, Robert St. John, hänen henkilökohtainen kosketus Al Capone, ,

French :

alcool, citizen, é.-u., États-Unis, interdiction, stockage d’alcool, alcool, boîtes de nuit, distilleries, traite des gangs, de contrebande, trafiquant d’alcool, rhum Runner, rives, Al Capone, parrain, complice, policier, Chicago, Berger rival, allemand, gang des juges fédéraux, prison, prison, guerre, journaliste, Robert Saint-Jean, ses contacts personnels avec Al Capone, ,

German :

Alkohol, Citizen, USA, Vereinigte Staaten, Verbot, Alkohol Lagerung, Alkohol zu trinken, Diskotheken, Brennereien, Menschenhandel Banden, Schmuggel, Schmuggler, Rum Runner, Ufer, Al Capone, Pate, Komplize, Polizist, Chicago, Rivale, Deutscher Schäferhund, Bande, Krieg, Bundesrichter, Gefängnis, Gefängnis, Journalist, Robert St. John, seinen persönlichen Kontakt mit Al Capone,

Greek :

αλκοόλ, πολίτη, ΗΠΑ, Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, απαγόρευσης, Αποθήκευση αλκοόλ, κατανάλωση αλκοόλ, νυχτερινά κέντρα, αποστακτήρια, εμπορία συμμορίες, λαθρεμπόριο, λαθρέμπορος οινοπνευματώδων, ρούμι δρομέας, ακτές, Αλ Καπόνε, Νονός, συνεργός, αστυνομικός, Σικάγο, αντίπαλος, Γερμανικός Ποιμενικός, συμμορία πόλεμο, ομοσπονδιακών δικαστών, φυλακή, ποινή φυλάκισης, δημοσιογράφος, ο Ρόμπερτ Αγίου Ιωάννη, η προσωπική επαφή του με την Αλ Καπόνε, ,

Haitian Creole :

alkòl, sitwayen, nan Etazini, Etazini, entèdiksyon, alkòl nan depo, bwè alkòl, bwatdenwi, distilleries, trafik gang, kontrebann, bootlegger, ak wonm solèy, shores, Al Capone, arenn, konplis, polisye, Chicago, rival, Alman Shepherd, klik lagè, jij federal, prizon, anpwizònman, jounalis, Robert Saint John, li pèsonèl kontak ak Al Capone, ,

Hebrew :

אלכוהול, אזרח, ארה ב, ארצות הברית, איסור, אלכוהול אחסון, שתיית אלכוהול, מועדוני לילה, ידי חיבור מאובטח, סחר כנופיות, הברחות, שתיין, רום ראנר, חופי, Al קאפונה, הסנדק, שותף, השוטר, שיקגו, המתחרה, גרמני רועה, חבורה מלחמה, שופט פדרלי, מאסר, מאסר, עיתונאי, רוברט סנט ג'ון, הקשר האישי שלו אל קפונה, ,

Hindi :

शराब, नागरिक, अमेरिका, संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका, निषेध, शराब भंडारण, शराब पीने, नाइटक्लब, डिस्टलरी, तस्कर गिरोह, तस्करी, bootlegger, रम धावक, तटों, अल कैपोन, गॉडफादर, साथी, पुलिस, शिकागो, प्रतिद्वंद्वी, जर्मन शेफर्ड, गिरोह युद्ध, संघीय ंयायाधीशों, जेल, कारावास, पत्रकार, रॉबर्ट सेंट जॉन, उनके अल कैपोन के साथ व्यक्तिगत संपर्क, ,

Hungarian :

alkohol, citizen, USA, Amerikai Egyesült Államok, tilalom, alkoholt tároló, alkoholfogyasztás, éjszakai, szeszfőzde, csempészbandák, csempészet, Félfalábbal, Rum Runner, partok, Al Capone, Keresztapa, cinkosa, rendőr, Chicago, rivális, Német Pásztor, banda háború, szövetségi bírók, börtön, szabadságvesztés, újságíró, Robert St. John, a személyes kapcsolatot az Al Capone, ,

Indonesian :

alkohol, warga negara, USA, Amerika Serikat, larangan, Penyimpanan alkohol, minum alkohol, klub malam, distilleries, perdagangan geng, penyelundupan, bootlegger, Rum Runner, pantai, Al Capone, godfather, pembantu, polisi, Chicago, saingan, Jerman gembala, geng perang, hakim federal, penjara, penjara, wartawan, Robert St. John, kontak pribadi dengan Al Capone, ,

Italian :

alcol, cittadino, USA, Stati Uniti, divieto, deposito di alcool, bere alcool, discoteche, distillerie, traffico di bande, contrabbando, contrabbandiere, Rum Runner, rive, Al Capone, Padrino, complice, poliziotto, Chicago, pastore tedesco, rivale, gang guerra, giudici federali, prigione, carcere, giornalista, Robert St. John, il suo contatto personale con Al Capone, ,

Japanese :

アルコール、市民、アメリカ、アメリカ合衆国、禁止、アルコール ストレージ、飲酒、ナイトクラブ、蒸留所、人身売買ギャング、密輸、密売、ラム酒のランナー、海岸、アル カポネ、ゴッドファーザー、共犯者、警官、シカゴ、ライバルは、ドイツの羊飼いギャング戦争、連邦裁判所判事、刑務所、懲役、ジャーナリスト、ロバート ・ セント ・ ジョン、アル ・ カポネと彼の個人的な接触,

Korean :

알코올, 시민, 미국, 미국, 금지, 알코올 저장, 알코올 음주, 나이트 클럽, 양조장, 밀매 조직, 밀수, 밀매 자, 럼 러너, 해안, 알 카 포 네, 대 부, 공 범, 경찰관, 시카고, 경쟁, 독일 양치기, 갱 전쟁, 연방 판사, 감옥, 투 옥, 신문 인, 로버트 세인트 존, 알 카 포 네, 그의 개인 접촉,

Latvian :

alkohols, pilsonis, ASV, Amerikas Savienotās valstis, aizliegums, alkohola uzglabāšanas, alkohola dzeršanu, naktsklubos, spirta rūpnīcām, tirdzniecība bandas, kontrabanda, bootlegger, ruma skrējējs, krastos, Al Capone, krusttēvs, līdzdalībnieks, policists, Chicago, pretinieku, vācu aitusuns bandu, kara, federālās tiesnešiem, cietumu, ieslodzījumu, žurnālists, Robert St John, viņa personīgais kontakts ar Al Capone,

Lithuanian :

alkoholis, pilietis, JAV, Jungtinių Amerikos Valstijų, draudimas, alkoholio saugojimo, alkoholio vartojimas, naktiniai klubai, distiliavimo gamyklas, prekybos žmonėmis nusikalstamomis grupuotėmis, kontrabanda, bootlegger, Romas takelis, kranto Al Capone, krikštatėvis, bendrininkas, policininkas, Chicago, varžovų, vokiečių aviganis, Blackjack karo, federalinių teisėjų, kalėjimas, laisvės atėmimas, žurnalistas, Robert Jono, jo asmeninio kontakto su Al Capone, ,

Norwegian :

alkohol, borger, USA, USA, forbud, alkohol lagring, alkohol drikking, nattklubber, destillerier, smugling gjenger, smugling, bootlegger, Rum Runner, strender, Al Capone, Gudfaren, medskyldig, politimann, Chicago, rival, tysk Shepherd, gjengen krig, føderale dommere, fengsel, fengsel, journalist, Robert St. John, hans personlig kontakt med Al Capone, ,

Polish :

alkohol, obywatel, USA, Stany Zjednoczone, zakaz, składowania alkoholu, picia alkoholu, kluby nocne, gorzelnie, przemytnicze, przemyt, Kuternogą, Rum Runner, brzegi, Al Capone, ojciec chrzestny, wspólnikiem, policjant, Chicago, rywal, niemiecki Pasterza, Gang wojna, sędziów federalnych, Więzienie, Więzienie, dziennikarz, Robert St. John, jego osobisty kontakt z Al Capone, ,

Portuguese :

álcool, cidadão, EUA, Estados Unidos, proibição, armazenamento de álcool, beber álcool, clubes noturnos, destilarias, tráfico de gangues, contrabandear, contrabandista, Rum Runner, margens, Al Capone, padrinho, cúmplice, policial, Chicago, pastor alemão, rival, Gang war, juízes federais, prisão, prisão, jornalista, Robert St. John, seu contato pessoal com Al Capone, ,

Russian :

алкоголь, гражданин США, Соединенные Штаты, запрет, хранения спирта, алкоголя, ночные клубы, винокуренные заводы, людьми банд, контрабанда, бутлегеров, ром бегун, берегов, Аль Капоне, Крестный отец, сообщник, полицейский, Чикаго, соперник, Немецкая овчарка, банды войны, федеральных судей, тюрьма, тюремное заключение, журналист, Роберт Сент-Джон, его личный контакт с Аль Капоне, ,




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