Auction revives Capone's take on how to run U.S.
BY SUN-TIMES STAFF
An auction of an autograph by Al Capone, signed on stationery from his Chicago headquarters, has revived a rare magazine interview the gangster gave in which he reflects on American life and his role in it.
The autograph was given to Peter Marisca, who was the driver of Liberty Magazine journalist Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr., on stationery from the Lexington Hotel at 22nd and Michigan.
The scrawl, being auctioned by R.R. Auction in Amherst, N.H., comes with a 12-page carbon copy of the Liberty Magazine article.
The interview for the story, titled "How Al Capone Would Run This Country," took place a few months before Capone was convicted of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
As presented by Vanderbilt, Capone, then 32, is fearful that "America is on the verge of its greatest social upheaval" because "Bolshevism is knocking at our gates."
The gangster frets over high unemployment: "If machines are going to take jobs away from the worker, then he will need to find something else to do. ... We must not allow him to fall into the maelstrom. We must keep him away from red literature, red ruses. We must see that his mind remains healthy."
Capone laments that "people respect nothing nowadays. ... Once we put virtue, honor, truth and the law on a pedestal." Prohibition, he suggests, has undermined respect for the law and is responsible for "a lot of our ills" because it is "leading to more lawbreakers."
Historians say Capone ordered dozens of murders as a Chicago mob boss, but Capone complains in the interview that "the news gang are forever riding me" and that it "seems as if I'm responsible for every crime that takes place in this country."
He says bankers -- "who take people's hard-earned cash for stock they know is worthless" -- and crooked politicians are bigger criminals than he is. And graft, says Capone, is "undermining the country."
Capone calls for a stronger national leader: "With an American Mussolini [the United States] can conquer the world," he opines.