Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 60: The Syndicate – American Underworld – Part 1

Social Matter
March 10, 2018

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Hank Oslo, Adam Smith, Hans Lander, Alex Nicholson, Nick Mason and special guest Alex Walker

Notes:

The American Dream for most during the Great Depression became more of an exercise in holding on than striving for greatness. But to those recent arrivals in ethnically segregated neighborhoods such as New York and Chicago who sought to get a piece of the action, they found power flowed to those most willing to use their wits, acts of violence, and above all else organization to seize control of lucrative trades in illicit goods such as alcohol in the era of Prohibition. These organized crime operations, led by men such as Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, and Bugsy Siegel became linked by their enforcement operations known as Murder, Inc., and more broadly as The Syndicate.

Timeline: 

1900 – The Bloody Gennas Brothers create the ‘Black Hand’ network, an early criminal syndicate focused on extortion and smuggling rackets in the Chicago area. This network creates much of the impetus for greater Italian criminal consolidation in the following decades.
1919 – Arnold Rothstein, an integral Jewish gangster in the NCS network, helps to fix the World Series game to his own financial benefit, creating a reputation as a cutthroat businessman willing to use whatever means to make money.
1920 – The Volstead Act, otherwise known as ‘Prohibition’, comes into national effect across the United States, banning the sale and distribution of alcohol.
Mid-1920’s – Several criminal networks, predominately Jewish and Italian, begin investing in breweries or cereal plants to expand their beer manufacturing output, launching the ‘Beer Wars’.
1924 – North Side Gang and Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit launch a five-year war with one another, after the assassination of Dion O’Bannion. By the end of the conflict, Capone had fully subsumed Chicago criminal activity and was directly squaring off against Chicago law enforcement, most notably Elliot Ness.
1929 – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre transpires as Capone orders a massive assault on several members of the North Side Gang, including their leader Bugs Morgan. The opposition to Capone crumbled after this attack, although public support for tougher law enforcement efforts against the mob rose immensely.
1929 – Major mob bosses and crime families from several eastern and Midwest cities converge onto Atlantic City to develop ‘The Commission’, or the corporate structure that would form the basis of the National Crime Syndicate.
1930 – By 1930, nearly every major American city west of Texas had developed a powerful NCS-linked structure, from Tampa Bay, Florida to Providence, Rhode Island. Increasingly, criminal activity was becoming a solely Jewish/Italian endeavor.
1935 – Thomas Dewy is appointed special prosecutor for the county of New York, beginning a brief age of rapid NCS deterioration at the hands of law enforcement efforts.

References:

– Lansky, Messick (1999)
– The Outfit, Russo (2003)
– In Search of Meyer, Klinger (2009) – https://www.jewishmag.com/130mag/meyer_lansky/meyer_lansky.htm

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