Entries in Illicit Entrepreneurship

Fey, Charles August
Over the course of a successful career, Charles August Fey made significant contributions to the development of America’s gaming industry. He is remembered today as the creator of the modern slot machine and as the “Thomas Edison of slots.” Continue Reading »
Mandelbaum, Fredericka
Fredericka Mandelbaum was born on March 25, 1825, in the central German city of Kassel. She settled in New York City in 1850 during the large, midcentury wave of German and Irish immigration to the United States. Mandelbaum arrived poor and, starting as a peddler, built a successful business as a criminal entrepreneur, the most noted “fence,” or receiver of stolen property, of her time, achieving success and fame from the 1860s through the early 1880s. Continue Reading »
Prohibition
The long-term effect of Prohibition for the Americans at large was a degeneration of beer culture which has only cautiously been reversed since the first microbreweries opened in the 1980s. The Germans were among the immigrant groups that suffered most from the onslaught of the temperance movement and from the enactment of National Prohibition. Although the role of brewers of German descent in the self-inflicted saloon crises was considerable and their attempts to defend themselves clumsy and self-defeating, they had to sustain severe losses when the beer trade became illegal, driving a part of the brewery owners to the brink of illegality themselves—or beyond. Continue Reading »
Remus, George
The life story of George Remus is a classic example of how the absurdities of the Volstead Act tempted a talented, very smart, and opportunistic German immigrant to deviate from the life of a respected trial attorney to one filled with a blind, lawless pursuit of abundant wealth and disregard for his enormous and gifted talent. Continue Reading »