Monday, January 23, 2012

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton (25 August 1819 – 1 July 1884) was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Early life, career and immigration

Pinkerton was born in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland. A cooper by trade, he was active in the British Chartist movement as a young man. Pinkerton married Joan Carfrae (a singer) in Glasgow on 13 March 1842 secretly before moving to America. Disillusioned by the failure to win suffrage, Pinkerton emigrated to the United States in 1842, at the age of 23.

In 1843, Pinkerton heard of Dundee, Illinois, fifty miles northwest of Chicago on the Fox River. He built a cabin and started a cooperage there, sending for his wife in Chicago after the cabin was complete. As early as 1844, Pinkerton worked for Chicago Abolitionist leaders, and his Dundee home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

In 1849 Pinkerton was appointed as the first detective in Chicago. In the 1850s, he partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency (still in existence as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a subsidiary of Securitas AB). Pinkerton's business insignia was a wide open eye with the caption "We never sleep." As the United States expanded in territory, rail transportation increased. Pinkerton's agency solved a series of train robberies during the 1850s, first bringing Pinkerton into contact with George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln.

American Civil War
Prior to his service with the Union Army, he developed several investigative techniques that are still used today. Among them are "shadowing" (surveillance of a suspect) and "assuming a role" (undercover work). Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Pinkerton served as head of the Union Intelligence Service in 1861–1862 and foiled an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland, while guarding Abraham Lincoln on his way to his inauguration. His agents often worked undercover as Confederate soldiers and sympathizers, in an effort to gather military intelligence. Pinkerton served in several undercover missions under the alias of Major E.J. Allen. Pinkerton was succeeded as Intelligence Service chief by Lafayette Baker. The Intelligence Service was the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service.

Postbellum
Following Pinkerton's service with the Union Army, he continued his pursuit of train robbers, such as the Reno Gang and the famous outlaw Jesse James. He was originally hired by the railroad express companies to track down James, but after Pinkerton failed to capture him, the railroad withdrew their financial support and Pinkerton continued to track James at his own expense. After James allegedly captured and killed one of Pinkerton's young undercover agents, who was foolish enough to gain employment at the farm neighboring the James farmstead, he finally gave up the chase. Some consider this failure Pinkerton's biggest defeat. He also sought to opposelabor unions. In 1872, the Spanish Government hired Pinkerton to help suppress a revolution in Cuba which intended to end slavery and give citizens the right to vote. If Pinkerton knew this, then it directly contradicts statements in his 1883 book The Spy of the Rebellion, where he professes to be an ardent Abolitionist and hater of slavery.

Allan Pinkerton died in Chicago on July 1, 1884. It is famously claimed that the reason was a convoluted accident in which Pinkerton slipped on the pavement and bit his tongue, resulting in deadly gangrene. However, reports of the time give different conflicting causes such as Pinkerton succumbing to a stroke (he had survived another one years earlier) or to malaria he had contracted during a trip to the Southern United States. At the time of his death, he was working on a system that would centralize all criminal identification records, a database now maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Pinkerton is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. He is a member of theMilitary Intelligence Hall of Fame.

Writings
Pinkerton produced numerous popular detective books, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavour. Most historians believe that Allan Pinkerton hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and no doubt reflect his own views.

Non-Fiction Books



Fiction


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