Episode 14 – The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

“Scarface” Al Capone is shown here at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge as Public Enemy No. 1 in this 8 x 10 black & white original wire photograph that has attached the original news bureau caption on verso, dated “2-26-31.”

February 14th isn’t just about flowers, candy, and dinner with your sweetheart. It is also the anniversary of one of the bloodiest gangland confrontations in US history. On February 14, 1929 seven men were shot in a north Chicago garage. This wasn’t just the ratcheting up of Prohibition-era violence in Chicago, a city seemingly out-of-control. It was also a key moment in the expansion of the Federal Government’s powers to override local control.

In our discussion of the massacre we also cover the valorization of crime, issues surrounding the racialization of criminals, and the legacy of gangs and men like Al Capone on US pop culture.

Episode 13 – Prohibition

Prohibition agents destroying barrels of alcohol DN-0072930, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society. 1921.

This week on An Incomplete History Hilary and Geoff discuss the implementation and long-term effects of the 18th Amendment, that’s prohibition, on the United States. Where did the idea for a nation-wide ban on alcohol come from? What did advocates hope to accomplish? Can we really blame prohibition for a rise in organized crime? And how does the 18th Amendment, nullified decades ago, still affect your life today? Join us this week to find out.

1919 is finally up!

Twenty one people were killed on Commercial Street in the North End when a tank of molasses ruptured and exploded. Boston Public Library via Wikimedia Commons.

So after some technical issues our latest episode is up! It may be the most important year in American history! Labor unrest, mail bombs, Anarchist plots, industrial accidents, mass deportations, rising racial tensions, and a government spying on its own citizens. The headlines from 1919 bear a striking resemblance to the present.  Prohibition began, women’s suffrage came one step closer to being a reality, and the nation was wracked with some of the worst racial violence since the Civil War. Join Hilary and Geoff for a discussion of the year that marked the end of the Progressive Era.