al capone standing in court

75+ Quotes By Al Capone: The Words Of A Notorious Outlaw

In this article, we’re diving into some of the most famous quotes by Al Capone!

Capone is probably the most famous gangster in American history. He garnered that reputation by being a shrewd businessman and instilling fear into anyone who dared to cross him. 

At the height of his power, Capone employed more than 600 gangsters all over the city of Chicago. And it’s estimated that when he died, his net worth was $100 million. (around $1.5 billion in today’s money)

While his life story is something that I could write about for hours, that’s not why you’re here. So let’s jump into some of the best Al Capone quotes that offer insight into the mind of America’s most famous gangster.


Famous Quotes By Al Capone


  • “You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.”


  • “Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.”


  • “If somebody messes with me, I’m gonna mess with him.”


  • “Don’t you get the idea I’m one of those goddam radicals? Don’t get the idea I’m knocking the American system.”


  • “The country wanted booze and I organized it. Why should I be called a public enemy?”


  • “Judges, lawyers, and politicians have a license to steal. We don’t need one.”


  • “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”


  • “I didn’t believe in prohibiting people from getting the things they wanted. I thought Prohibition was an unjust law, and I still do.”


  • “A crook is a crook, and there’s something healthy about his frankness in the matter. But any guy who pretends he is enforcing the law and steals on his authority is a swell snake. The worst type of these punks is the big politician.”


  • “I am sick and tired of publicity. I want no more of it. It puts me in a bad light. I just want to be forgotten.”


  • “You can rule by fear or you can rule by love. Remember that if you’re ever in charge.”


  • “Don’t tell me what was said about me. Tell me why they were so comfortable saying it to you.”


  • “You can’t be a half-gangster. You’re either in or you’re out in this racket.”


  • “Reputation takes a lifetime to build and only seconds to destroy.”


  • “We all have to decide for ourselves how much sin we can live with.”


  • “Some call it bootlegging. Some call it racketeering. I call it a business.”


  • “You can accomplish more with a smile, a handshake, and a gun than you do with just a smile and a handshake.”


quote by al capone


  • “When killing them with kindness doesn’t work, I’ve heard that a baseball bat is pretty effective.”


  • “You’d be surprised if you knew some of the fellows I’ve got to take care of.”


  • “It’s pretty tough when a citizen with an unblemished record must be hounded from his home by the very policemen whose salaries are paid, at least in part, from the victim’s pocket. You might say that every policeman in Chicago gets some of his bread and butter from the taxes I pay.”


  • “They talk about me not being legitimate. Nobody’s legit, you know that and so do they. Nobody’s really on the legit when it comes down to cases.”


  • “I’m the boss. I’m going to continue to run things. They’ve been putting the roscoe on me for a good many years and I’m still healthy and happy.”


  • “Public service is my motto.”


  • “I would rather be rich, affluent and greedy and go to hell when I die, than live in poverty on this earth.”


  • “(from prison) I came to Chicago with $40 in my pocket. My son is now 12, I’m still married and I love my wife dearly. We had to make a living. I was younger than I am now and thought I needed more.”


  • “I never stuck up a man in my life. Neither did any of my agents ever rob anybody or burglarize any homes while they worked for me. They might have pulled plenty of jobs before they came with me or after they left me, but not while they were in my outfit.”


  • “No gangster is happy even when he’s at peace. The main reason he’s in business is to eliminate his enemies.”


  • “Do not mistake my kindness for weakness, I am kind to everyone, but if you are unkind to me, it will not be weakness that you will remember me for.”


  • “Capitalists believe they can take everything at the table as belonging to them. Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.”


  • “Many people in this world live a disadvantaged life. You can lessen their burdens by providing support, either materially or emotionally. Even just giving a box of chocolate can bring a glimpse of light to those in need.”


  • “When I sell liquor, it’s bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver tray on Lakeshore Drive, it’s hospitality.”


al capone quote on a wall


  • “I’ve lost a million and a half on the horses and dice in the last two years. And the funny part is, I still like ’em, and if someone handed me another million I’d put it right in the nose of some horse that looked good to me.”


  • “I got nothing against the honest cop on the beat, the kind you can’t buy. You just have to have them transferred someplace where they can’t do you any harm.”


Enjoying this list of quotes so far? Then you’ll probably also enjoy these villain quotes or this list of gangster quotes.

If you’d just prefer to keep reading, then here’s some more badass Al Capone quotes.


  • “Don’t ever talk to me about the honor of police captains or judges. If they couldn’t be bought they wouldn’t have the job.”


  • “I’ve been accused of every death except the casualty list of the World War.”


  • “Bolshevism is knocking at our gates, we can’t afford to let it in…We must keep America whole and safe and unspoiled. We must keep the worker away from red literature and red ruse; we must see that his mind remains healthy.”


  • “Who cares about sh*t people say that they don’t have the balls to say to your face?”


  • “Everybody’s a gangster until a real gangster walks in the room.”


  • “You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”


  • “I’ve had to do a lot of things I don’t like to do. But I’m not as black as I’m painted. I’m human, I’ve got a heart in me.”


  • “We been on the road for 18 hours… I need a bath, some chow… and then you and me sit down, and we talk about who dies?”


  • “You need more than guts to be a gangster. You need ideas.”


  • “Once you’re in the racket, you’re in for life.”


  • “All you have to worry about is when you run out of booze, and run out of company, all you have left is yourself.”


  • Find the toughest guy in the room. Embrace him like a brother. And then slam his head against the wall.”


quote on blue wall


  • “It’s better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a lamb.”


  • “Why not treat our business like any other man treats his, as something to work at in the daytime and forget when he goes home at night? There’s plenty of business for everybody. Why kill each other over it?”


  • “I’ll swallow my blood before I’ll swallow my pride.”


  • “It’s a racket, these stock market guys are crooked.”


  • “The rage you have inside of you is a gift, but don’t let anyone see it.”


  • “Don’t let anybody kid you into thinking I can be run out of town. I haven’t run yet and I’m not going to.”


  • “Money will make you do things you never know about as a child.”


  • “What do you want to do, get yourself killed before you are 30? You’d better get some sense while a few of us are left alive.”


  • “You wanna pick on people that can’t defend themselves? Then pay for his funeral.”


  • “I have always been opposed to violence, to shootings. I have fought, yes, but fought for peace. And I believe I can take credit for the peace that now exists in the racket game in Chicago. I believe that the people can thank me for the fact that gang killings here are probably a thing of the past.”


  • “Now I know why tigers eat their young.”


  • “Everything that crawls is gonna pay. One way or another, they’re gonna pay up.”


  • “Ninety percent of the people of Cook County drink and gamble and my offense has been to furnish them with those amusements. Whatever else they may say, my booze has been good and my games have been on the square.”


  • “Everybody who comes from the gangster life – they need what the man in the suburbs wants. Nice family, nice house. Bills paid. Kids in school. Food on the table. Nothing more.”


  • “Hell must be a pretty swell spot, because the guys that invented religion have sure been trying hard to keep everybody else out.”


quote from a gangster


  • “Friends are not as important as family. Do not confuse the loyalty of friendship with the bond of blood.”


  • “All I ever did was sell beer and whiskey to our best people. All I ever did was supply a demand that was pretty popular. Why, the very guys that make my trade good are the ones that yell the loudest about me. Some of the leading judges use the stuff.”


  • “Let the worthy citizens of Chicago get their liquor the best they can. I’m sick of the job-it’s a thankless one and full of grief. I’ve been spending the best years of my life as a public benefactor.” 


  • “Vote early and vote often.”


  • “I have acquired more knowledge in the street than in any classroom.”


  • “They’ve hung everything on me except the Chicago fire.”


  • “In this life, all that I have is my word and my balls, and I do not break them for anybody.”


  • “My rackets are run on strictly American lines and they’re going to stay that way.”


  • “Every time a boy falls off a tricycle, every time a black cat has gray kittens, every time someone stubs a toe, every time there’s a murder or a fire or the Marines land in Nicaragua, the police and the newspapers holler “Get Capone.” 


  • “People who respect nothing dread fear. It is upon fear, therefore, that I have built up my organization. But understand me correctly; those who work with me are afraid of nothing.”


  • “Once you’re in the racket, you’re always in it. The parasites will trail you, begging for money and favors, and you can never get away from them no matter where you go.”


  • “This American system of ours, capitalism, gives each and every one of us if we seize it with both hands and make the most of it.”


Final Thoughts

I hope that you enjoyed these famous quotes by Al Capone! While he was better known for ruthlessness and violence than his words, it’s still interesting to take in his quotes on life.

From his reflections on the American economy, to his views on human nature and the role of power, Capone’s words reveal a man with a deep understanding of the world around him. 

You don’t become one of the wealthiest gangsters in history without knowing a thing or two about how the world works. And while many of his actions were reprehensible, these Al Capone quotes remind us that everyone has a perspective we can learn from.

Whatever you wanna say about the way that Capone made his fortune, he saw an opportunity and snatched it with both hands.

And that’s certainly something we should all strive to do regardless of what we’re pursuing.

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