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A Picture from History: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

In this edition of A Picture from History, we look at the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre and its impact on notorious gangster, Al Capone.

In 1929, alcohol was an illegal item throughout the United States.

But a thriving bootleg liquor business sprang up underground.

And in Chicago, nobody had as much influence in the trade as gangster Al Capone.

Al Capone
Al Capone

For Capone, business boomed. He pulled in roughly $85 million per year in 1920’s money — close to $1.3 billion today.  

There was only one problem…Bugs Moran.

Bugs Moran

Bugs Moran
Bugs Moran

Moran’s attempts at moving into the liquor business aggravated Capone’s South Side Gang, who wanted to operate throughout Chicago, not just a section of the city.

Capone wasn’t happy…and Moran was about to make him even less so.

Location of Saint Valentines Day Masascre
Map of Chicago

Aside from attempting to assassinate Capone’s friend and mentor, Johnny Torrio, Bugs also sent hitmen after Capone.

John Torrio
John Torrio

But Moran took it further, targeting Capone’s chief hitman, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn.

Jack McGurn
Jack McGurn

Bad blood built between the two and it culminated on Valentine’s Day 1929.

The Last Valentine’s Day

February 14, 1929 — seven of Moran’s men waited in a North Side garage for a shipment of bootlegged Canadian whiskey.

A police car pulled up with four men stepping out – two wearing police uniforms.

The police ordered Moran’s men up against a nearby wall, shoulder to shoulder. Thinking it was nothing more than a police raid, Bugs’ men complied.

Reenactment of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Reenactment of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. (Photo: Chicago History Museum)

It would be the last thing they’d do.

Shots rang out from two Thompson submachine guns and a shotgun.

By the time the dust settled, all seven of the men laid dead on the ground.

Valentines Day Massacre Tommy Guns
The two Tommy guns used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre now reside in Berrien County, Michigan. (Photo: Chriss Lyon via Block Club Chicago)

Chicago Mourned

Public outcry was swift for what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

It proved to be a nightmare for Capone.

Before the shooting, he was seen as something of the common man’s hero — fighting against the system’s injustice.

St Valentines Day Masascre Brick
Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre brick displayed at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, Washington, D.C. (Photo: David via WikiCommons)

But after, Capone became a violent criminal in the public’s eye. In short, it was a public relations disaster.

Furthermore, the massacre brought down the entire strength of the federal government on Capone’s head.

Capone was in Miami during the shooting, but the blame instantly fell to him. (Though the case technically remains unsolved.)

Al Capone
Al Capone

Valentine’s Day 1929 brought Capone into the limelight, and investigators seized the opportunity to lock him away.

The famed gangster was later sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for tax evasion.

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical; if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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15 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Vincent Alberry

    Yep, I agree, keep the stories coming. I find them fascinating. Thanks.

    October 4, 2021 5:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rick

    Yes keep them coming.

    October 4, 2021 9:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Thomas

    I look forward to your historically and factual accurate , articles. They are a great addition to this 2nd Amendment and sporting information site. Thank you.

    October 3, 2021 11:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Whitaker

    I have been facinated with "The Mob" since I was very young . . . a long time ago. It still facinates me to the point that I think I have watched every documentary about the mob and it's characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the new storyline. Keep it up. There are lots of mobsters who would like to have their stories told.

    October 3, 2021 8:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Peter Gazzinya

    I agree. Better than telling everyone to keep buying hellishly overpriced ammunition. Carry on with this vector, Victor.

    October 3, 2021 7:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Garth Daniels

    Very cool,keep articles like this coming.

    October 3, 2021 5:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Hovater

    I can't wait until you do Bonnie and Clyde.

    October 3, 2021 4:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Roger McCullough

    Very interesting, liked it a lot.

    October 3, 2021 3:36 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kelly Miller

    Loved it! Sitting at the airport waiting and it was a nice read.

    October 3, 2021 3:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Derrick

    Awesome reading.....nice touch keep it coming

    October 3, 2021 1:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve Sherridon

    Great article. But thrice you call him Maron and twice Moran......- a google search shows Moran......

    October 2, 2021 11:44 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Sometimes the fingers have a mind of their own. Thanks for that catch, it's been fixed!

      October 2, 2021 1:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Vinny

    "Bootleg Canadian Whiskey",,, wonder if any of this shipment may have been brought in by whiskey running Joseph Kennedy?, or did he only smuggle into New York speakeasies?

    October 2, 2021 10:27 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jermaine

    Loved it!!! Great history!! Very relevant to some the laws we have today. Would be nice to see more about the weapons of choice! This would totally make your mission and the article relevant to your Readers IMHO.

    October 1, 2021 1:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeff

    Love it
    Don't forget about the battle of athens Tennessee

    October 1, 2021 11:10 am
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