“On the border of snakeland”: evolutionary psychology and plebeian violence in industrial Chicago, 1875-1920

“On the border of snakeland”: evolutionary psychology and plebeian violence in industrial Chicago, 1875-1920

Jeffrey S. Adler

Late in the evening of July 6,1891 Pete Monrad murdered Frank Gilroy and badly wounded Edward Stuart during a brawl in a Chicago saloon. The fight possessed many of the characteristic features of lethal violence in the late nineteenth-century city; the participants were poor, single, knew one another, fought in a bar after a night of drinking, and their dispute was bound up with the rituals and conventions of working-class life. Sailors recently returned from barge work on the lake, the men, along with three dozen other sailors, “were drinking more or less–most of them more,” when Monrad quarreled with Gilroy “as to who was responsible for the last round of drinks.” (1) Admitting to have been “drunk for about a week,” Monrad was, according to witnesses, “on the border of snakeland.” (2) Known as “the Cowboy” even though “he had never been West,” Gilroy attempted to resolve the matter by offering a drink to Monrad, a Norwegian immigrant known as “Dutch Pete.” His overture rebuffed, Gilroy, at least according to Monrad, “pulled a knife and swore he would make me drink.” Dutch Pete then grabbed a gun and shot both “the Cowboy” and Edward Stuart, the shooter’s “best friend.” Horrified by the events, Monrad explained to the police that “I meant to shoot ‘the cowboy,’ but not Stuart.” (3)

In the working-class saloons that lined the roughest sections of late nineteenth-century Chicago, refusing a man’s treat violated rules of plebeian sociability and thus frequently triggered brawls. For example, moments before Albert Burke plunged a knife into the neck, then the eye, and then the chest of James Rathgeber, the victim had confronted Burke and bellowed “so you refuse to drink with me, do you.” (4) A local reporter quipped that “Rathgeber imagined the refusal had been meant as a personal slight and took umbrage.” (5) Disputes over particular chairs in bars also sparked lethal brawls, as did disagreements over the respective singing abilities of brewers and butchers, over the skills of favorite boxers, and over the qualities of beloved pets. (6) Patrick Furlong killed his coworker and “good friend” Edward Leach after a spirited debate about whether England “could whip Russia.” “I suppose we both got a little angry,” Furlong conceded. (7)

The conventional wisdom among historians holds that these often-lethal disputes over trivial issues reflected contests over status and masculinity in the rough-and-tumble world of working-class society. Drunken, aggressive, and violent behavior represented an inversion of the restrained, polite conventions of middle-class society, JUST as toasting and drinking rituals affirmed the bonds that linked workers to one another and united them in opposition to bosses and moral reformers. (8) In short, the rules of working-class culture compelled Dutch Pete to attack “the Cowboy” because the former rejected the treat of the latter. As mechanization and demographic change transformed the workplace and undermined workers’ status, autonomy, and sense of manliness, aggressive and impulsive responses to violations of plebeian “etiquette” assumed increasing cultural importance, contributing enormously to urban violence.

Evolutionary psychologists, however, offer a different explanation for the homicidal behavior of Albert Burke, Patrick Furlong, and the Norwegian sailor known as Dutch Pete. Such violence, these scholars suggest, may be rooted in adaptive mechanisms honed through thousands of years of evolutionary change. (9) The adaptive processes that enabled individuals to survive in “ancestral environments” remain a part of the psychological and physiological makeup of human beings, according to this argument. (10) In the hunting-and-gathering societies of mankind’s distant past, aggression often insured survival, both for the individual and for the kin group; young men relied on violence to attract mates, to protect territories, and to safeguard kin. The process of natural selection, therefore, favored aggression, and “the human male psyche,” Martin Daly and Margo Wilson explain, “has evolved to be more risk-taking in competitive situations.” (11) Far from being irrational or “pathological,” aggressive, violent behavior, especially when employed by young single men against competitors, was rational and functional. In other words, earlier in the human evolutionary process, anger, volatility, and violence represented a useful “adaptation,” and such “evolved mechanisms remain a part of the human psychological and physiological makeup, even though they no longer serve the specific purpose for which they evolved. (12) Millennia of social and cultural development, evolutionary psychologists argue, have blunted but not eliminated the aggressive, competitive impulses of young men. (13)

Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of modern violence reveal the traces of such impulses, according to evolutionary psychologists. Daly and Wilson note that in all societies, regardless of location or era, young men, particularly young bachelors, commit the lion’s share of homicides. The proportion of lethal violence committed both by and against men has remained remarkably constant as well. (14) Neither culture nor geography nor time nor technology has affected the basic relationship between young men and violence. (15) The high testosterone levels that appear to contribute to aggressive behavior reflect remnants of a process of natural selection. At a more qualitative level, evolutionary psychologists find evidence to support their argument as well. The strutting, preening, swaggering, and hypermasculinity of bachelor (sub)cultures also transcend the boundaries of time and space, and such conduct seems designed to impress potential mates and to intimidate competitors. Simply put, evolutionary psycho logists suggest that aggressive behavior, whether actual or ritualized, often represents an enduring feature of a complex set of “evolved adaptions.”

These scholars–aggressively–dismiss the notion that their explanations are deterministic, simplistic, or intellectually mechanical. Biology is not destiny, they aver. But neither is it irrelevant. The evolved adaptations underlying same-sex male violence provide “proximate” explanations for aggression. (16) The “ultimate” explanations, however, remain embedded in the fluid interaction between “psycho-physiological” impulses and “social and material cues.” (17) By themselves, these “biological adaptations” do not necessarily produce violent behavior. Instead, they create a kind of predisposition, which, when combined with poverty, inequality, or other factors that heighten competitive inclinations, can generate violence. Social and material circumstances, in other words, exaggerate, blunt, or even redirect the swaggering, bellicose, risk-taking impulses borne of social circumstances millennia ago. This complex process is, perhaps, comparable to the interaction between behavior and particular diseases with ge netic predispositions. Behavioral risk factors, such as diet or stress, interact with genetic predispositions for heart disease, for instance, to increase the likelihood of an individual developing the illness. It is the combination or interaction that accounts for the etiology of the disease, just as it is the blend of particular social circumstances with certain evolved adaptations that triggers same-sex violence.

This essay applies an evolutionary psychology model to an analysis of homicide in Chicago from 1875 to 1920. Consisting of over fifty-six hundred cases compiled from police, health department, prison, and newspaper sources, the data set on which the work is based includes every homicide that occurred in the city during this forty-five year period. (18) Because evolutionary psychologists devote particular attention to male, same-sex violence, this essay concentrates on male-on-male violence. At least for historians, a crucial measure of the usefulness of evolutionary psychology perspectives is the theory’s capacity to explain change over time. (19) Both the rate and the character of homicide in Chicago changed dramatically between 1875 and 1920. If evolutionary psychology offers an important perspective for historians, in short, then it should provide insights on both kinds of changes.


Chicago experienced meteoric, jolting growth between 1875 and 1920, becoming the industrial capital of the nation and America’s second largest city. Quantitative evidence provides some sense of the magnitude of the transformation. During this forty-five year period, Chicago’s population mushroomed from just over four hundred thousand to 2,701,705. The city’s foreign-born population spiked by 361 percent, and huge waves of newcomers from Poland and Italy dwarfed the late-century flow of Irish and German immigrants to the shores of Lake Michigan. (20) Similarly, the “Great Migration” from the rural South contributed to a 2081 percent surge in the number of African-American Chicagoans and fundamentally altered race relations in the city. (21) Between 1875 and 1920 living conditions changed as well; the city’s death rate fell by more than a third, and life expectancy in the Illinois metropolis more than doubled. (22) These demographic changes helped to redefine the city’s economy. Chicago’s manufacturing workforc e nearly quintupled, and the value of manufactured goods ballooned by 1815 percent between 1875 and 1920. (23) Institutional changes followed suit; the size of the municipal police force increased nearly nine-fold, and police and fire department expenditures swelled by 1541 percent and 924 percent respectively. (24) A bustling city of small shops in 1875, Chicago became a modern, industrial giant by 1920.

This transformation, however, had scant effect on the sex ratios of homicide. The dizzying social, demographic, economic, and cultural changes of the era exerted virtually no influence on the proportion of homicides committed by men. During the late 1870s, for example, men committed 92.65 percent of Chicago homicides. In 1920 they committed 92.69 percent of Chicago homicides, and during no five-year span in the interim did the proportion vary by more than 3 percent. Similarly, male-on-male violence accounted for 77.94 percent of local homicides during the late 1870s. In 1920, the figure was nearly identical, at 78.85 percent, and the proportion fluctuated within a remarkably narrow range between the late 1870s and 1920. (25) Such continuity is consistent with the cross-national data summarized by Daly and Wilson and supports the evolutionary psychology perspective. (26)

But other measures of local violence reveal no such continuity and thus pose challenges for the explanatory power of evolutionary psychology. While the sex ratio of homicide remained unchanged, the rate at which men killed one another more than tripled between 1875 and 1920. Young, single men committed the overwhelming majority of homicides throughout this era, though these aggressive and volatile Chicagoans were far more violent during the 1910s than during the 1870s. Shifts in the age or sex composition of Chicago fail to account for this surge. (27) In other words, the explosive increase in the local homicide rate does not reflect a change in the number or proportion of men in the population or a rise in the number or proportion of young or single men. Nor does it seem plausible that natural selection would, in forty-five years, produce adaptive mechanisms accounting for a 2178 percent increase in the number of male-on-male homicides.

The nature of male-on-male violence changed as profoundly as the level of such violence. The circumstances that produced homicidal behavior shifted dramatically between 1875 and 1920. If Dutch Pete’s drunken, murderous rage both typified same-sex homicide in late nineteenth-century Chicago and fits well with evolutionary psychologists’ portraits of the swaggering behavior of young, poor barroom brawlers, early twentieth-century male-on-male homicide grew out of very different circumstances. To be sure, men such as Monrad continued to live in Chicago, but whisky-induced saloon fights became rare in the city after the turn of the century. Instead, a new breed of Windy City killer emerged.

This change is not necessarily inconsistent with the evolutionary psychology model. Daly and Wilson (and other proponents of this model) argue that shifting social and material cues can produce higher levels and new forms of violent behavior. Put differently, changes in the lives and circumstances of young Chicagoans might have exaggerated aggressive and competitive instincts in ways that left Chicago awash with blood, so that by the 1910s the Illinois metropolis was one of the most violent American cities outside of the South.28


Drunken brawls represented the leading single source of homicide in late nineteenth-century Chicago. Between 1875 and 1890, for example, one-third of all male-on-male homicides resulted from such fights. By comparison, fewer than one homicide in twenty resulted from a robbery, only one in twenty-seven was the product of a fight between co-workers, and one in eighty-three resulted from labor violence. Middle-class Chicagoans attributed these drunken brawls to a combination of the violent tendencies of the poor and the pernicious effects of demon rum. “The murders of Chicago,” according to one observer, “are generally personal matters between the savages” and the consequence of “dissipation and passion.” (29) Recounting the events surrounding one such homicide, a Chicago Tribune reporter compared working-class residents with wild beasts. “Pour whisky into an orang-outang,” the journalist explained, “and he would in all likelihood behave as this wild Irishman has done.” (30) A Chicago Daily News writer described another killer as “a perfect type of the ‘dead tough’ young man. His nose is almost lost between high cheek-bones [sic] and his small eyes glower beneath scowling brows.” (31)

The participants in such “customary rites” denied that whisky triggered the lethal violence. (32) In fact, Chicago’s drunken brawlers often insisted that alcohol had not clouded their judgment, even though juries typically dealt leniently with impaired fighters. The twenty-nine year old Charles Downie, who killed his brother William, explained “when I drink I am generally more sober than at other times.” (33) Similarly, a witness to a lethal drunken brawl argued that one of the participants was “sober. He was not too sober; he was what I call drunk. He was not too sober or too drunk,” William Miller testified. (34)

Bystanders, assailants, and victims typically attributed deadly saloon brawls to violations of or challenges to the rules of plebeian culture. Refusing another man’s treat demonstrated condescension, and taking another man’s customary chair expressed disrespect. (35) Moreover, each represented a challenge to manhood, and Chicago’s late nineteenth-century barroom brawlers employed violence to defend their manliness. Assertions of toughness, likewise, were usually intended to impugn the masculinity of those who tried to avoid open conflict. The men who frequented the “tough resorts” and “low dives” of the city often affirmed their manhood by challenging to fight anyone within earshot. In 1880, for example, the Swedish immigrant John Bangson died responding to Andrew Anderson’s taunt that he could “lick and cut the guts out of any___ Swede.” (36) Similarly, Alfred Schrosbee died defending his claim that he could “thrash anyone in the room.” (37) Other lethal brawls began with slightly more oblique challenges. Jo stles in crowded saloons, according to the rules of plebeian culture, entailed challenges. No man was supposed to relinquish his position or allow another man to push or even brush against him; doing so implied submissiveness, weakness, and impotence. On January 1, 1878, the twenty-three year old Toney [sic] Bloom collided with sixteen year old Dutchy Weiland in a crowded working-class bar. Interpreting the jostle as a challenge, Weiland immediately announced “you___, do you think you can lick me?” Bloom replied that “he had said no such thing, but offered to fight any one man” in the saloon. In the ensuing melee, Weiland slashed Bloom’s throat. (38) Examples abound of similar fatal confrontations sparked by trivial comments and incidental jostles interpreted to be assaults on manhood. (39)

The locations of the homicides reveal the same set of triggering incidents. During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, approximately 27 percent of male-on-male homicides occurred in saloons. Many other lethal brawls began in saloons but ended in the streets and alleys around working-class bars. In fact, about one-fifth of the homicides occurring in the streets of the city were drunken brawls displaced from local saloons. Typically, the saloonkeeper or bartender, often using a gun or a club to punctuate his command, ordered the combatants “to take it outside.” (40)

The participants in Chicago’s late nineteenth-century drunken brawls tended to be poor and young, even by comparison with other killers and victims. Between 1875 and 1890, 64.7 percent of killers and 60.9 percent of their victims were unskilled. (41) Brawlers–both killers and victims–were also younger than other participants in Chicago homicides; the average age for killers was just over twenty-eight, and the average for victims of drunken brawls was thirty-one. (42) These men, but particularly the slightly younger killers, formed the core of the city’s bachelor subculture. During the late nineteenth century, men typically did not leave the homes of their parents unless they were in their mid-twenties, and more than half of the Chicago men in their late twenties remained unmarried. (43) Poor bachelors in their late twenties were the city’s most violent drunken brawlers.

Homicidal brawlers also stood apart from other killers and victims because they murdered friends and acquaintances. In more than two-thirds of lethal drunken brawls during this period, men killed their friends or acquaintances. By comparison, among all male-on-male homicides in the city, only 41.4 percent involved men killing friends or acquaintances.

In short, men such as John Bangson and Toney Bloom were aggressive, volatile, and violent, but their actions were neither random nor uncontrolled. These homicides were scripted events, staged to impress observers; the participants strutted and swaggered, jostled and challenged, stabbed and shot, with purpose. (44) While such purpose was grounded in nature of working-class culture, structural changes in the industrial economy exaggerated the potential for jostles and collisions to turn violent. The historian Elliott J. Corn has argued that working-class men felt their autonomy and independence slipping away, as mechanization, deskilling, and changing labor markets undermined their hold on status and their control of the workplace. Desperate to preserve a sense of status, working-class men embraced an exaggerated version of masculinity. (45) Such a cultural process seems consistent with the “social and material cues” described by evolutionary psychologists. In other words, Corn’s cultural analysis and Dutch Pet e’s behavior fit well with Daly and Wilson’s perspective.

Male-on-male homicide, however, changed significantly after 1890, and the emerging forms of lethal violence do not mesh as nicely with the evolutionary psychological model. Drunken-brawl homicide fell sharply between 1875 and 1920. Even while the male-on-male homicide rate swelled by 240 percent, Chicago’s drunken-brawl homicide rate contracted by 23 percent. (46) Furthermore, the proportion of homicides committed during such fights dropped by 53.2 percent, and by the 1910s these brawls no longer constituted the largest single category of Chicago homicides. (47) The proportion of homicides occurring in local bars dipped by 53.1 percent as well. Even the nature of saloon violence changed. Between 1875 and 1890, drunken brawls accounted for three-fourths of the homicides committed in local bars. By the 1910s, the figure had fallen to 52 percent. Nor were drunken fights simply moving to new settings. The proportion of street killings that resulted from drunken brawls plunged by two-thirds between 1875 and 1920. Weapon choice changed as well, with homicides committed with knives falling by 41 percent and homicides committed with blunt instruments, particularly bottles and chairs, dipping by more than 46 percent.

At least with regard to lethal violence, the bellicose, aggressive world of the working-class bar was under siege, and male-on-male homicides in Chicago no longer tended to occur in saloons, to be sparked by trivial jostles and reckless challenges, or to begin “on the border of snakeland.” Wild young men did not disappear from local society, but they felt less inclination to prove their masculinity in deadly drunken brawls.

A confluence of factors contributed to the decline of the plebeian violence of the late nineteenth century and to the changing character of early twentieth-century homicide. Municipal authorities waged repeated crusades against the most violent “low resorts” in the city, encouraging law enforcers to raid the wildest bars and to enforce existing ordinances requiring saloons to close at midnight. These efforts spurred many saloonkeepers and bartenders to discourage unusually rowdy behavior, to deny drinks to the most inebriated patrons, and to expel the most obstreperous young men. (48) At the same time, Chicago policemen became increasingly intolerant of drunken and disorderly behavior and arrested boisterous young men. City officials also reduced open gambling and concentrated brothels in Chicago’s South Side vice district, effectively robbing neighborhood saloons of activities that undergirded plebeian culture. (49) Changes in the marketing and distribution of alcohol contributed to this process as well, ena bling residents to purchase alcohol in larger quantities and thus to shift their consumption to the home, where drinking became at least partially divorced from the aggressive rituals of working-class, male sociability. (50)

Chicago’s economic transformation also played a role in this process. As the workplace grew in scale and became increasingly mechanized, employers demanded greater discipline and imposed greater supervision on laborers. More than ever before, the working men of Chicago had to conform to new standards of industrial discipline and self control. The city’s public schools imposed similar regimen on the Chicago’s youngest residents, teaching them to sit quietly, refrain from impulsive actions, and even to exercise caution before crossing the streets. (51) The increasing availability of handguns may have dampened the aggressive masculinity of local toughs as well. As the proportion of homicides committed with firearms surged, even the swaggering ruffians of local bars may have thought twice before challenging any and all onlookers. (52)

Police and public health records suggest that wild behavior waned between 1875 and 1920. Although law enforcers were increasingly hostile to the rough saloons of the city and to public rowdiness, arrests for drunken and disorderly behavior fell during this period, suggesting that levels of disorder were, in fact, decreasing. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the annual number of drunk-and-disorderly arrests dropped by more than twenty-five hundred, and the rate of such arrests plunged by 42 percent. (53) Rates of accidental death, particularly from drowning and collisions with horse-drawn vehicles, also fell during this period, similarly indicating that Chicagoans were becoming more cautious and careful. (54)

Although working-class Chicagoans became less impulsive and less volatile, they did not become less violent. The opposite occurred; male-on-male violence spiked, assuming new and different forms during the early decades of the twentieth century. By the 1910s, robberies accounted for more homicides than any other single source. The robbery-homicide rate exploded between 1875 and 1920, rising by 744 percent. The proportion of male-on-male homicides in which robbers killed their victims increased by 221.7 percent. During this forty-five year period, Chicago’s population increased 6.7 fold, but the number of Chicagoans who died at the hands of robbers increased 97.5 fold. By 1920, robbers were responsible for over one-third of all Chicago murders. (55)

As a consequence of this shift, the circumstances of robbery, rather than the demands or rituals of plebeian masculinity, shaped the character of male-on-male homicide. Robbers typically struck on the streets of the city, and thus after 1910 streets replaced local bars as the leading sites for homicide. But comparable changes also occurred within each setting. An increasing proportion of homicides in barrooms, for example, occurred during robberies, rising from one in thirty-three saloon homicides to one in seven. Similarly, drunken-brawl homicides began to disappear from the streets, even as saloonkeepers banished inebriated ruffians to the streets. The relationship between killers and victims changed as well, reflecting the shift from brawls to robberies. For example, the proportion of homicides erupting between friends and acquaintances fell, while the percentage involving strangers rose; by the late 1910s strangers became the most common victims of Chicago killers. In short, lethal violence left the world of plebeian sociability.

In stark contrast to Pete Monrad’s murder of Frank Gilroy, homicide in Chicago became increasingly impersonal, instrumental, and calculated. “Crime is an organized business in Chicago,” the Chicago Crime Commission’s Henry Barrett Chamberlin warned in 1920. (56) Hold-up men often worked in gangs and planned their heists. Half of robbery-homicides, for instance, involved at least four participants. Chicago hold-up men frequently “cased” their targets before striking, learning the rhythms of local businesses in order to choose promising targets. Because Saturday was a busy day on local street cars, robbery gangs, for example, typically struck car barns on Saturday nights. (57) The hold-up men who hit the 61st Street car barn of the Chicago City Railway on August 30, 1903, were certain that the cashier’s office would have at least two thousand dollars of cash on hand, and the robbers did not strike until the last driver had turned in his receipts and left the building and until the cashier had sorted the money. In fact, robbers Harvey Van Dine, Pete Niedermeier, and Gustave Marx had scouted the scene on the nights before the robbery, and they “knew the location of the wires connecting the burglar alarm with the large gongs” and “knew where a window was open in the washroom and how to escape from this window across a vacant lot and through rear alleys to less frequented streets.” (58)

Other robbers learned the payroll schedules of local businesses. Determining the pay cycles of a local business, a gang of five hold-up men intercepted two special policemen returning from a bank early Saturday morning, on May 19, 1917, loaded with satchels of cash to pay the employees of Stein and Company, the manufacturer of “Paris garters.” One of the special policemen–and one of the robbers–died in the robbery. (59) Robbers struck saloons, poolrooms, and restaurants shortly after the workers in nearby factories received their pay. Because the Henneberry Printing Company paid its employees on Tuesdays and Andrew Bowman, a neighborhood saloonkeeper, typically cashed the workers’ paychecks, Sam Cardinelli’s hold-up gang robbed Bowman’s saloon on a Tuesday night, making off with over twenty-six hundred dollars. (60) Similarly, at 10 a.m., on April 20, 1917, three hold-up men shot and killed Thomas Connolly on his way “from a bank to his saloon with a large amount of money to be used in cashing checks for em ployes [sic] in near by factories.” [61] Thomas Errico identified a local poolroom where International Harvester employees congregated after getting paid. Errico visited the poolroom “several times to spy out the land, arrange the job and went ahead as a decoy.” [62] Simply put, early twentieth-century robberies required planning and discipline, and thus these killings differed considerably from the spontaneous, impulsive violence that characterized late nineteenth-century homicides.

Such instrumental, purposeful violence appears to be at odds with the strutting, boasting, testosterone-driven behavior of the bachelors described by evolutionary psychologists. Relying on stealth, the hold-up men who planned and executed the 1903 car barn robbery and murders, for example, hardly seemed to use violence to intimidate competitors or to trawl for potential mates. But perhaps changing social and material cues put a new face on working-class violence. Daly and Wilson suggest that declining opportunities or increasing acceptance of risk might trigger the competitive mechanisms that generate violent behavior in young men. [63] Did changing conditions transform homicidal drunken brawlers into murderous hold-up men in early twentieth-century Chicago? In other words, were robbers merely old-style killers engaging in new behaviors in response to shifting circumstances?

Both groups of killers were young, though the assailants in robbery-homicides were especially youthful. The average age of the men who committed homicide in late nineteenth-century drunken brawls was 28.5. The average for early twentieth-century hold-up killers, however, was 23.6, and 83 percent were under thirty. Robbery-killers were six years younger than the average for all homicidal men during this era. Contemporaries recognized this pattern. “It is the young fellows from 17 to 22 that does [sic] the gun work” in robbery-homicides, a spokesman for the Chicago Crime Commission reported in 1920. (64) Perhaps the city’s most notorious robbery gang of the era, the Cardinelli gang, which committed six murders and forty-two robberies in 1919, consisted of an eighteen year old and two nineteen year olds. (65) Similarly, the hold-up men who pulled off the 1903 car barn robbery and were responsible for eight murders and eight robberies, ranged in age from twenty-one to twenty-three. (66) Local writers termed the n ew breed of killers “boy bandits” or “baby bandits,” and many early twentieth-century robbery gangs emerged from youth gangs. (67)

Evolutionary psychologists suggest that declining opportunities or increasingly bleak prospects for the future might account for shifts in the violent behavior of young, single men. (68) Confronted with dim futures, poor men, according to this argument, become more aggressive and more daring in order to achieve status. (69) These changes in “prospects” are difficult to measure, since the crucial issue is the perception of future prospects, rather than more quantifiable indices such as the level of inequality or the rate of upward mobility. Nonetheless, in at least two ways, one based on quantitative measures and the other based on more impressionistic sources, the evidence from early twentieth-century robbery-homicides offers plausible support for the evolutionary psychology model of violent behavior.

First, murderous hold-up men were very poor, even by comparison with other Chicago killers during the early twentieth century. Large-scale industrialization transformed the structure of Chicago’s labor force during this period, producing an increase in semiskilled jobs (machine tenders) and a relative decrease in unskilled jobs. As a result of this shift, the proportion of day laborers and other unskilled workers in the work force contracted, producing a comparable contraction in the proportion of unskilled killers in the city. Unskilled men, for example, comprised 45.8 percent of male killers during the late nineteenth century and 39.4 percent of male killers during the early twentieth century. The percentage of unskilled robber-killers, however, increased between 1875 and 1920. During the late nineteenth century, 49.4 percent of robber-killers were unskilled, while 58.5 percent were unskilled during the opening decades of the twentieth century. At least by this measure, the men who committed robbery-murder seemed to be losing ground as the structure of the local economy changed.

Second, fragments of qualitative evidence indicate that many murderous robbers recognized that their prospects were bleak. Harvey Van Dine, who participated in eight robberies in which eight men were murdered and five were wounded, worked long hours with a bad back and was unable to get save enough money to support his mother, to get an education, to marry his sweetheart, and to “have a house of my own.” (70) The visit of two friends who “had on good clothes and had been out all night” piqued Van Dine’s interest. “I asked than [sic] what they were doing for a living,” Van Dine explained, and “they laughed and said they did not have to work.” A short time later, the friends visited again and offered to include Van Dine in their next robbery. “I was out of money, as I had given mother all my pay,” Van Dine recalled. That night he committed “my first hold-up,” and two nights later he was involved in his first robbery-homicide. (71) Similarly, representatives of the Chicago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty t o Children and Animals urged the Illinois Board of Pardons to commute Nicholas Viana’s death sentence. Even though the eighteen year old Viana was convicted of two murders and faced pending indictments for four additional murders, two assaults with intent to commit murder, four robberies, and two burglaries, James R. Howe urged leniency “on account of his extreme youth, his parents and [the fact that his] opportunities in life were not as good as some people.” (72) For young men desperate to escape poverty, the lure of easy money from hold-ups was especially appealing. A spokesman for the Chicago Crime Commission insisted that boys became robbers and killers because “it [crime] is easier than honest, productive effort,” and the assailants themselves often emphasized the low wages and grinding poverty that they endured before turning to crime. (73)

Although the mushrooming economy of early twentieth-century Chicago provided expanding opportunities for armed robbers, the hold-up business was also becoming increasingly dangerous; in the language of evolutionary psychology, young men encountered growing risks. By the mid-1890s, the surge in robberies in general and robbery-homicides in particular had generated panic in the city. In 1896, for example, the Chicago Tribune reported that “this dread menace to life and property and public health flourishes as never before.” (74) Guns sales in hardware and sporting goods stores surged, as Chicagoans armed themselves against the “foorpad’s gun and the sandbagger’s weapon.” (75) Police Chief John Badenoch declared that the “thug must go,” and local law enforcers became increasingly aggressive in the war against highwaymen. (76) In 1907, Police Chief George Shippy promised “to strike awe to the cheap murderous thugs who think nothing of killing a man to get his money. I have told my men to shoot to kill.” (77) Loca l law enforcers followed these orders; between 1900 and 1920, policemen shot and killed seventy-six hold-up men, compared to fourteen between 1875 and 1899. In 1920 Alderman Joseph O. Kostner recommended an immediate “promotion for police patrolmen and sergeants who kill hold up men.” (78)

Private citizens responded still more aggressively, killing one hundred twenty-nine hold-up men during the first two decades of the century. Between 1900 and 1920 more robbers died at the hands of uncooperative victims than were killed by Mafia/Black Hand assassins or striking workers. Potential victims, such as payroll couriers, special policemen, saloonkeepers, and store owners, were particularly quick to arm themselves and to resist hold-up men. Many saloonkeepers, for example, carried a handgun and placed a second weapon behind the bar. (79) Vowing he would not be robbed again, shoe store owner Frank Dijons “spent nearly all the money I had on this revolver.” On January 23, 1904, Dijons used the gun to kill a robber who had entered his store. (80)

This trend made Chicago’s hold-up men skittish and more aggressive. When victims moved haltingly or did not immediately raise their hands, local highwaymen feared resistance. For instance, after Albert Kubalanza tried to “secret his money in his clothes when ordered to put up his hands” during a 1919 poolroom heist, Frank Campione concluded that his victim “was reaching in his back pocket for a weapon” and “shot him through the heart.” (81) In short, robbers recognized that they confronted increasing resistance from their victims and responded by employing greater force. The proportion of murderous robbers who relied on firearms rose by 49.3 percent between 1875 and 1920. As the financial opportunities for robbers increased, they faced greater risks (in the form of resistance from victims), making Chicago hold-up men quicker to carry guns and quicker to shoot. The mutually reinforcing interaction between victims’ resistance and hold-up men’s use of violence conforms to evolutionary psychologists’ assertions c oncerning the effects of increasing levels of risk.

But even if bleak future prospects and increasing risk factors encouraged some young Chicagoans to turn to crime and to use violence to accomplish their goals, the demeanor or character of early twentieth-century robbers seems categorically different from that of the strutting, preening brawlers of the late nineteenth century. The men who planned their capers, cased their victims, filed off the registration numbers on their weapons, hit hard, and then disappeared into the night appeared to share little with the swaggering ruffians of sailors’ bars. At first glance, the highwaymen and payroll robbers of early twentieth-century Chicago seem cool, deliberate, and calculated. Closer inspection, however, reveals a more complex picture.

Like other well-orchestrated hold-ups, the 61st Street car barn robbery of 1903 went off like clock work. But the young highwaymen had planned to rob an express train on the Wisconsin Central Line, but “we did not do it for some reason,” one gang member explained. Then the hold-up men intended to hit the 79th Street car barn of the Chicago City Railway, though the robbers “got there too late. We came back to the 61st Street barns at three o’clock,” according to Harvey Van Dine. “We saw that all was clear and went.” (82) In his first robbery-homicide, Van Dine’s gang’s total haul was $2.35, and in a subsequent hold-up, the men killed two people and reaped $8.00 for their efforts; “we killed two men–four dollars apiece,” Van Dine later recounted. (83) Other well-coordinated gangs killed for similarly meager hauls.84 For smaller gangs of hold-up men, lone-wolf killers, or the “jack rollers” who targeted drunken and smaller men, the financial returns were typically modest. (85)

Moreover, despite the forethought involved in local robberies, these crimes often bore the unmistakable imprint of impulsive young men. Some robbery gangs were headed by older men, “Fagins,” according to local observers, who planned the jobs. (86) But the hold-ups themselves were undertaken entirely by young men. Beyond the gaze of their mentors, baby bandits were wild and reckless. Chicago’s robbery-homicide rate rose nearly five times faster than the city’s robbery rate during the early twentieth century. (87) “No veteran criminal takes a life with as little provocation as did these boys,” a Chicago police lieutenant explained after a 1905 robbery-homicide. (88) In 1908 Police Chief George Shippy suggested that they simply “love to shoot at the slightest provocation. “(89) Judge Kickham Scanlan reached the same conclusion, noting that young hold-up men “killed when they didn’t have to kill, just recklessly and wantonly.” (90)

The killers agreed. “Shooting came cheap,” car barn robber Harvey Van Dine admitted.9′ In 1917 Frank Zager murdered Paul Pelipo because “he was a mutt- wouldn’t stick up his hands quick enough … so I just bumped him off.” Asked why he shot and killed a second, more compliant victim, Zager quipped “O [sic], I just thought I might as well kill him, I guess.” (92)

Many of Chicago’s murderous hold-up men resorted to lethal violence when they felt challenged. Smacking of the bluster of late nineteenth-century brawlers, these young men felt that their victims were demonstrating disrespect. The cues, signals, and rituals of such challenges, however, were less clear on the streets during a robbery than they had been in a working-class bar. On November 17, 1918, for example, two highwaymen commanded Simon J. Levi to hold up his hands. A newcomer from Russia with scant command of English, Levi obediently “extended his arms horizontally.” “Shoot him,” ordered one of the robbers, and his companion complied, killing the young immigrant.(93) Nicholas Viana boasted to his friends and fellow gang members that “if anybody makes a crooked move I would kill them … what do you think I have agun for.” (94) Facing token resistance from his victim, sixteen year old Elmer Fanter, shot and killed August Jantzen during a 1915 store robbery. Giggling as he explained his actions to a judge d uring his trial, Fanter averred that “he [Jantzen] swatted me on the cooo. Well, I ain’t takin’ that sort of stuff off’n no one, so I ups with my rod and lets him have it right through the heart.” (95) Both teenagers, Viana and Fanter murdered their victims in order to get money but also in order to convey or feel power. The stealth and planning required of hold-up men notwithstanding, the violence employed by murderous robbers was, in many respects, an expression of toughness, ferocity, and masculinity. (96) In some ways, Elmer Fanter, Frank Campione, and Nicholas Viana were remarkably similar to Dutch Pete, Dutchy Weiland, and Albert Burke.

Do the similarities between late nineteenth-century brawlers and early twentieth-century robbers, in terms of marital status and class, outweigh the differences in purpose, location, weapon use, relationship between killer and victim, and the level of calculation? Is it possible that Frank Zager’s murder of Paul Pelipo, who was too slow in responding to the robber’s command, was comparable to Dutchy Weiland’s deadly response to being jostled in a crowded saloon? Were both acts of violence expressions of the evolved mechanisms of male competition described by evolutionary psychologists? Is the remarkable consistency in the sex ratios of Chicago homicide more revealing about the sources of violent behavior than the dramatic increase in the rate of homicide? And did changing perceptions of opportunity and risk account for the variability of lethal violence between 1875 and 1920? In other words, do data on homicide in Chicago between 1875 and 1920 support or challenge the evolutionary psychology perspective on vi olence?


The short answer is “yes.” The evolutionary psychology model is almost as difficult to disprove as it is to prove. Continuity supports the theory. But change can also support the theory. Not surprisingly, this analysis of homicide in industrial Chicago reveals powerful elements of continuity and unmistakable elements of change.

On one level, Daly and Wilson offer historians little. If proximate causes are constant and variability is rooted in ultimate causes, then we are left precisely where webegan, accounting for hisrorical processes by studying social, economic, cultural, and political change. In short, our traditional categories of analysis- the ultimate explanations-account for shifting behavior, regardless of whether that behavior represents the muted expressions of primordial impulses or the adaptive mechanisms spawned in some hunting-and-gathering past.

On another level, however, perhaps evolutionary psychology offers not so much a set of answers as a useful perspective, one that reminds historians to look for sources of continuity within areas of change. Dutch Pete’s behavior fits well with our understanding of plebeian culture. Harvey Van Dine’s behavior does not. Evolutionary psychologists argue that the men reacted to common impulses, but changing conditions transformed or redirected the outward expressions of these impulses. Daly and Wilson suggest that profound change can mask important elements of continuity. By focusing our attention on these common threads, evolutionary psychology offers a valuable, if controversial and speculative, perspective on historical processes.

In sum, the evolutionary psychology model posits that Harvey Van Dine’s violence represented a new version of adaptive masculine behavior. Dimming prospects, increasing risks, and other social changes may have encouraged poor young men to become more aggressive. For example, the decline of “low dives,” where working-class men had celebrated toughness and ferocity, undercut some of the aggressive rituals of plebeian culture. The proliferation of revolvers also transformed the rules of working-class aggressiveness. In early twentieth-century Chicago, where guns were readily available, local ruffians were less inclined to announce that they would abide no disrespect or take on all corners. Instead, for young men such as Frank Zager and Elmer Fanter, expressions of power increasingly involved guns and displays of dominance over unarmed strangers. Moreover, shorn of the rituals of challenge and response, Zager’s and Fanter’s assertions of power were bound by no rules. If evolutionary psychologists are correct in a rguing that changing material circumstances redefined older forms of violence, then the new expressions of working-class strutting were more instrumental but also more gratuitous and much deadlier than the plebeian behavior of the late nineteenth century. Ironically, the purposeful, calculating Harvey Van Dine proved to be far more violent than the volatile, impulsive Dutch Pete of snakeland.

Department of History

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(1.) Chicago Herald, July 7, 1891.

(2.) Chicago Herald, July 7, 1891.

(3.) Chicago Herald, July 7, 1891.

(4.) Chicago Times-Herald, June 11, 1897. Also see Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1890.

(5.) Chicago Tribune, June 11, 1897.

(6.) For a few examples, see Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1896; Chicago Times, June 19, 1887; Chicago Times-Herald, April 23, 1897; Chicago Record, July 16, 1900; Chicago Record-Herald, April 23, 1897.

(7.) Chicago Tribune, February 11, 1899.

(8.) See Elliott J. Gorn, “‘Good-By Boys, I Die A True American’: Homicide, Nativism, and Working-Class Culture in Antebellum New York City,” Journal of American History 74 (September 1987): 388-410.

(9.) See Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, Homicide (New York, 1988); Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, “Crime and Conflict: Homicide in Evolutionary Psychological Perspective,” Crime and justice 22(1997): 51-100; Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence: The Young Male Syndrome,” Ethology and Sociobiology 6 (1985): 59-73; Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, “An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective on Male Sexual Proprietariness and Violence Against Wives,” Violence and Victims 8 (Fall 1993): 271-94; Margo Wilson, “Take This Child: Why Women Abandon Their Infants in Bangladesh,” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 30 (Autumn 1999): 687-702; Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape (Cambridge, MA, 2000). For particularly strong critiques of this literature, see S. Gould and R. Lewontin, “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 205 (1979): 581-98; Philip Kitcher, Vaulting Ambition (Cambridge, MA, 1985).

(10.) See Daly and Wilson, Homicide, 53; Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 71.

(11.) Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 71; Wilson and Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence,” 60-61.

(12.) Daly and Wilson, ‘Crime and Conflict,” 60.

(13.) Wilson and Daly call this the “dangerous-young-male syndrome.” See Wilson and Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence,” 67.

(14.) Daly and Wilson, Homicide, 147-48; Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 70.

(15.) See David T. Courtwright, Violent Land (Cambridge, MA, 1996).

(16.) For a discussion of the proximate versus ultimate explanation issue, see Thornhill and Palmer, A Natural History of Rape, 4.

(17.) For the “social and material cues” issue, see Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 75.

(18.) A remarkable set of police records provides the foundation for the data set. See “Homicides and Important Events, Chicago Police Department, 1870-1920,” Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL. For a discussion of shifts in the social and legal construction of homicide (and the ways in which such changes affected homicide rates), see Jeffrey S. Adler, “‘Halting the Slaughter of the Innocents’: The Civilizing Process and the Surge in Violence in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago,” Social Science History 25 (Spring 2001): 29-52.

(19.) I recognize that proponents of evolutionary psychology do nor speak with a single voice. As my citations suggest, I devote particular attention to the work of Martin Daly and Margo Wilson. Moreover, I focus on the broader insights of this scholarship, and thus I refer to the “theory”–not theories–of the social scientists who embrace evolutionary psychology.

(20.) Wesley G. Skogan, Chicago Since 1840 (Urbana, 1976), 18-19.

(21.) Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 18-19.

(22.) Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 30-31; Report of the Department of Health of the City of Chicago for the Years 1926 to 1930 Inclusive (Chicago, 1931), 683.

(23.) Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 24-25; Homer Hoyt, One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago (Chicago, 1933), 481-82.

(24.) Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 90-91, 95-96.

(25.) The lowest figure for any five-year period was 69.8 percent, while the highest proportion was 78.85 percent.

(26.) Daly and Wilson, Homicide, 147-48.

(27.) Age-standardized homicide rates reveal the same spike. I am grateful to Eric H. Monkkonen for sharing his data on age-standardized rates for Chicago during this period.

(28.) Frederick L. Hoffman, The Homicide Problem (Newark, 1925), 16-17; Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1913; Report of the Department of Health of the City of Chicago for the Years 1926 to 1930 Inclusive, 681.

(29.) George Kibbe Turner, “The City of Chicago,” McClure’s Magazine 28 (April 1907): 590.

(30.) Chicago Tribune, January 23, 1878.

(31.) Chicago Daily News, October 5, 1891.

(32.) For the “customary rites” quotation, see Chicago Times, July 19, 1880.

(33.) Chicago Tribune, September 6, 1884.

(34.) Flynn v. Illinois, 78 N.E. 617 (Illinois, 1906).

(35.) See Madelon Powers, Faces Along the Bar (Chicago, 1998), 96-99; Eric H. Monkkonen, Murder in New York City (Berkeley, 2001), 73.

(36.) Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1880.

(37.) Chicago Times-Herald, April 26, 1898.

(38.) Chicago Tribune, January 2, 1878.

(39.) For perhaps the most influential analysis of this phenomenon, see Marvin E. Wolfgang, Patterns in Criminal Homicide (New York, 1958), 185-99.

(40.) For examples of this, see Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1880; Chicago Tribune, November 22, 1887; Chicago Times, January 23, 1889; Chicago Times-Herald, January 2, 1898.

(41.) Among all male-on-male killers and victims between 1875 and 1890, the figures are 52 percent and 58.4 percent.

(42.) The average age of non-drunken-brawl, male-on-male killers was 29.8, while the average age of non-drunken-brawl, male-on-male victims during the late nineteenth century was 33.8.

(43.) For a similar pattern regarding the age of killers, see Eric M. Monkkonen, “New York City Offender Ages: How Variable Over Time?” Homicide Studies 3 (August 1999): 263-64. For discussions of young men and the life cycle, see Eric H. Monkkonen, Homicide in New York City, 103; Richard H. Steckel, “The Age at Leaving Home in the United States, 1850-1860,” Social Science History 20 (Winter 1996): 515; David A. Stevens, “New Evidence on the Timing of Early Life Course Transitions: The United States 1900-1980,” Journal of Family History 15 (1990): 168. For a discussion of age at marriage, see Howard P. Chudacoff, The Age of the Bachelor (Princeton, 1999), 48, 50. In Chicago in 1890, 85 percent of men twenty to twenty-four, 51 percent of men twenty-five to twenty-nine, and 29 percent of men thirty to thirty-four were single. Men approaching thirty, therefore, were late in marrying. With each passing year, the population of women of appropriate age for these men to marry contracted; 56 percent of women twenty t o twenty-four, 26 percent of women twenty-four to twenty-nine, and 14 percent of women thirty to thirty-four were single. See Eleventh Census of the United States: Report on the Population of the United States (Washington, 1895), Part 1, 884. In the terms of evolutionary psychology, men in their late twenties faced increasing competition for mates and, in fact, dimming prospects for marriage. Thus, these men may have become louder, more aggressive, and more violent in order to impress eligible women and stave off competitors.

(44.) Of course, not all local toughs abided by the rules and rituals of plebeian violence, and thus it is easy to overstate the structured, scripted quality of drunken-brawl homicide. Nonetheless, there were established rules, which working-class Chicagoans usually followed and often discussed. For homicide cases in which such rituals were explicitly debated, see Chicago Tribune, June 9, 1877; Chicago Herald, August 31, 1893; Illinois v. Popovich, 121 N.E. 729 (Illinois, 1918). For a related analysis, see Wilson and Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence,” 59–61.

(45.) Gorn, “‘Good-By Boys, I Die A True American’,” 388–410.

(46.) Chicago’s drunken-brawl homicide rare peaked during the early 1880s, fell gradually until the early 1910s, and plunged between 1915 and 1920. The rate fell by 62 percent between the early 1880s and 1920.

(47.) This proportion measures the changing percentage of male-on-male homicides that resulted from drunken brawls. Between 1875 and 1890, 32.8 percent of all male-on-male homicides were the result of drunken fights. Between 1910 and 1920, the corresponding figure was 15.3 percent.

(48.) Illinois v. Stapleton, 133 N.E. 224 (Illinois, 1921). Perry R. Duis found that the “ratio of people per barroom in Chicago stabilized” during the mid-1880s and then “slowly inched downward.” See Duis, The Saloon (Urbana, 1983), 28. Also see Jeffrey S. Adler, “‘My Mother-in-Law is to Blame, But I’ll Walk on Her Neck Yet’: Homicide in Late Nineteenth-Century Chicago,” Journal of Social History 31 (Winter 1997): 258.

(49.) See Duis, The Saloon, 234; The Social Evil in Chicago (Chicago, 1911), 119–27.

(50.) Duis, The Saloon, 229, 292.

(51.) See Biennial Report of the Coroner of Cook County (Chicago, 1915), 19–32.

(52.) The proportion of homicides committed with firearms rose from 54.7 percent between 1875 and 1890 to 70.5 percent between 1910 and 1920.

(53.) Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 19. I used the 1900 to 1920 period for these figures because comparable data were not available for the late nineteenth century. Also see Eric H. Monkkonen, “A Disorderly People?: Urban Order in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Journal of American History 68 (December 1981): 539-59.

(54.) Report of the Department of Health of the City of Chicago for the Years 1926 to 1930 Inclusive, 683, 1136; Skogan, Chicago Since 1840, 30-31; Lyle Benedict and Ellen O’Brien, “Death, Disturbances, Disasters and Disorder in Chicago” (pamphlet prepared for the Municipal Reference Collection of the Chicago Public Library, 1996), 8. The early century decrease in rates of accident predates the implementation of safety improvements in the workplace or on the streets of the city. This larger process is comparable to the “civilizing process” described by Norbert Elias. See Elias, The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners (1939; reprint edition, New York, 1978); Elias, The Civilizing Process: Power and Civility (1939; reprint edition, New York, 1982); Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen, eds., The Civilization of Crime (Urbana, 1996); Peter N. Stearns, The Battleground of Desire (New York, 1999).

(55.) Edwin H. Sutherland calculated the murder figure at 36.2 percent. See Sutherland, Criminology (Philadelphia, 1924), 65. Robbers were responsible for nearly one-quarter of all male-on-male homicides in Chicago in 1920.

(56.) Testimony of Henry Barrett Chamberlin to Governor Frank O. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare, on the Application on Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(57.) Chicago Tribune, August 31,1903.

(58.) Chicago InterOcean. August 31, 1903: Petition of Harvey Van Dine for Commutation of Death Sentence, April 20, 1904, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(59.) Chicago Daily News, May 19, 1917.

(60.) Illinois v. Cardinelli, 130 N.E. 355,357 (Illinois, 1921).

(61.) Chicago Daily News, April 21, 1917.

(62.) Testimony of Henry Barrett Chamberlin to Governor Frank 0. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare, on the Application on Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(63.) Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 80.

(64.) Testimony of Henry Barrett Chamberlin to Governor Frank O. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare on the Applications of Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana, for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL. Also see Report of the City Council Committee on Crime of the City of Chicago [Charles Merriam, Chairman] (Chicago, 1915), 165.

(65.) Testimony of E. 3. Raber, Assistant State’s Attorney, to Governor Frank 0. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare on the Applications of Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Illinois v. Cardinelli, 130 N.E. 355, 357 (Illinois, 1921); Frederic M. Thrasher, The Gang (1927; abridged edition, with an introduction by James F. Short, Jr., Chicago, 1963), 297.

(66.) Herbert Asbury, Gem of the Praire (1940; reprint, with an introduction by Perry R. Duis, DeKaIb, IL, 1986), 224.

(67.) Chicago Evening Post, February 24, 1919; Illinois v. Cardinelli, 130 N.E. 355, 357 (Illinois, 1921); Thrasher, The Gang, 265. Reflecting important changes in youth culture in the city, these young robbers used violence for very different reasons than the relatively older drunken brawlers of the late nineteenth century. Shifts in the nature of youth violence, therefore, were bound up with changes in the life-course transitions of workingclass Chicagoans.

(68.) Daly and Wilson, “Crime and Conflict,” 80.

(69.) Wilson and Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence,” 65.

(70.) Petition of Harvey Van Dine to Governor Richard Yates for Commutation of Death Sentence, April 20, 1904, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(71.) Petition of Harvey Van Dine to Governor Richard Yates for Commutation of Death Sentence, April 20, 1904, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(72.) T. Frank Laramie and James R. Howe to the Illinois Board of Pardons, September 21, 1920, Petition of Harvey Van Dine for Commutation of Death Sentence, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(73.) Testimony of Henry Barrett Chamberlin to Governor Frank O. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare, on the Application on Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Sophie E. Van Dine to Governor Richard Yates, undated letter [April, 19041, Application of Harvey Van Dine for Pardon or Commutation of Sentence, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(74.) Chicago Tribune, June 14,1896.

(75.) Chicago Times-Herald, October 19, 1895. Also see Chicago Record, November 20, 1893.

(76.) Chicago Times-Herald, October 19, 1895.

(77.) Chicago Record-Herald, August 24, 1907.

(78.) Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1920.

(79.) For example, see Chicago Evening Post, October 24, 1904.

(80.) Chicago Tribune, January 24,1904.

(81.) Letter to Governor Frank O. Lowden, July, 1920, Statement of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare, on the Application of Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(82.) Petition of Harvey Van Dine for Commutation of Death Sentence, April 20, 1904, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL

(83.) Petition of Harvey Van Dine for Commutation of Death Sentence, April 20, 1904, Illinois Board of Pardons, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Van Dine, quoted in Asbury, Gem of the Prairie, 226.

(84.) Testimony of Henry Barrett Chamberlin to Governor Frank O. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare on the Applications of Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana, for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(85.) For example, see Chicago Tribune, May 1,1920. For “jack rolling,” see Illinois v. Garippo 127 N.E. 75, 77 (Illinois, 1920); Thrasher, The Gang, 77.

(86.) Letter of Edward F. Dunne, December 1, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare on the Application of Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL. Dunne called Sam Cardinelli a “Fagan” [sici, referring to the character in Dickens’s Oliver Twist who taught children to steal. Frederic M. Thrasher also discussed the influence of “modern Fagins,” who taught young gang members to steal. See Thrasher, The Gang, 188.

(87.) Between 1900-04 and 1920, the robbery-homicide rate increased by 184 percent, while Chicago’s robbery rate rose by 38.8 percent.

(88.) Chicago Tribune, March 20, 1905.

(89.) Chicago Record-Herald, January 4, 1908.

(90.) Judge Kickham Scanlan, quoted in Chicago Commission on Race Relations. The Negro in Chicago (Chicago, 1922), 346.

(91.) Harvey Van Dine, quoted in Asbury, Gem of the Prairie, 226.

(92.) Chicago Tribune, May 1, 1920. For a related discussion, see Jack Katz, Seductions of Crime (New York, 1988).

(93.) Chicago Tribune, November 18, 1918.

(94.) Testimony of E. J. Raber, Assistant State’s Attorney, to Governor Frank 0. Lowden, October 15, 1920, Report of the Division of Pardons and Paroles of the Department of Public Welfare on the Applications of Frank Campione, Thomas Errico, and Nicholas Viana for Commutation, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.

(95.) Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1915.

(96.) For a related analysis, see Wilson and Daly, “Competitiveness, Risk Taking, and Violence,” 66. C. Gabrielle Salfati has argued that, under certain circumstances, instrumental violence can become expressive violence. “An offender,” Salfati explains, “who is actually committing an otherwise instrumental crime, may become angry with the victim and engage in reactive (expressive) aggression.” Salfati, “The Nature of Expressiveness and Instrumentailty in Homicide,” Homicide Studies 4 (August 2000): 288-89.

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