Allan Pinkerton

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Related to Allan Pinkerton: Abraham Lincoln
Allan Pinkerton
BirthplaceGlasgow, Scotland
NationalityScottish American
Detective and spy
Known for Creating the Pinkerton Agency

Pinkerton, Allan,

1819–84, American detective, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, b. Glasgow, Scotland. A cooper by trade, he emigrated to the United States in 1842 and opened in West Dundee, Ill., a cooper's shop, which became a station on the Underground Railroad. His discovery and capture of a band of counterfeiters led to his appointment (1846) as county sheriff and, in 1850, to an appointment as the first city detective on the Chicago police force. He established in the same year a private detective agency, which had considerable success in solving train- and express-company robberies. In 1861 he foiled a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, and in the Civil War Pinkerton organized and directed an espionage system behind the Confederate lines. His agency secured (1869) evidence on which the Molly MaguiresMolly Maguires
, secret organization of Irish-Americans in the coal-mining districts of Pennsylvania. Its name came from a woman who led an extralegal, antilandlord organization in Ireland during the 1840s, and its membership was drawn from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an
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 were broken up. After Pinkerton's death, the agency was continued by his sons, Robert A. Pinkerton and William A. Pinkerton, and was active in breaking the Homestead strike of 1892. For its role in industrial disputes on behalf of management, particularly in its use of labor spies, the agency was denounced by organized labor. Pinkerton wrote of his own experiences in Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches (1879) and other books.


See biography by S. A. Lavine; R. W. Rowan, The Pinkertons (1931); J. D. Horan, Desperate Men (1949) and The Pinkertons (1967).

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Pinkerton, Allan

(1819–84) detective, Union secret service chief; born in Glasgow, Scotland. Son of a policeman, he became a barrelmaker before emigrating to the U.S.A. in 1842 and settling in Illinois. His abolitionist sympathies led him to aid the "underground railroad" for escaping slaves. After helping to capture a gang of counterfeiters, he was elected a deputy sheriff of his county (1846); in 1850 he moved to Chicago and became the deputy sheriff of Cook County and a detective on the Chicago police force. In 1852 he formed his own private detective agency and gained considerable fame for solving a series of train robberies. In 1861 he discovered a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln while he was to travel by railroad to the inauguration in Washington, D.C.; Pinkerton personally guarded Lincoln on this trip. As a result, Gen. George McClellan got Pinkerton named to head the Federal army's new secret service; under the alias "Major E. L. Allen," Pinkerton came up with some intelligence, but its quality was so poor that it was said to have contributed to McClellan's failed Peninsula Campaign; when McClellan lost his command, Pinkerton also lost his post. He continued, however, to investigate damage claims against the government (1862–65). After the Civil War, he went back to Chicago and expanded his own detective agency to other cities. It became known for organizing groups of armed men and hiring them out to help management break strikes by the new labor unions. (In 1892 it was "Pinkerton men" who were called in for the infamous Homestead affair.) He published ten volumes about his experiences as a detective.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
(6) "Allan Pinkerton Arrested?" The New York Times, 10 November 1904.
Nothing would have made me miss the 3:10 to Yuma train carrying the famed outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to prison, in James Mangold's 2007 never-ending cinematic nirvana!In real time 3:10 to Yuma marks the shocking finale of Mangold's 122-minute movie that also stars Logan Lerman, Ben Foster, Dallas Roberts, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Benjamin Petry, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol and Christian Bale as Dan Evans, the unlucky rancher with one wooden leg who volunteers to accompany Wade to the train station for $200 after his abrupt capture at a salon, where he earlier split the loot heisted from a railroad stagecoach run by the security agency of Allan Pinkerton and his band of ruthless men.
Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884), who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, rose to become Chicago's first police detective.
Raines is now officially sworn in as an agent of the North, working with Allan Pinkerton, but he is also a Southern gentleman, the son of a Confederate officer who is a close friend of Jefferson Davis.
In 1862, the Scotsman Allan Pinkerton, dismissed from Abraham Lincoln's intelligence service for exaggerating enemy strength and now wishing to re-ingratiate himself, warned of an assassination plot.
Jesse James Colin Farrell Cole Younger Scott Caan Zee Mimms Ali Larter Frank James Gabriel Macht Jim Younger Gregory Smith Thaddeus Rains Harris Yulin Ma James Kathy Bates Allan Pinkerton Timothy Dalton Bob Younger Will McCormack Doc Mimms Ronny Cox Rollin Parker Terry O'Quinn Comanche Tom Nathaniel Arcand Confusing a serving of beefcake for real chow, "American Outlaws" sadly symbolizes the decline of the Western.
After all, those who first insisted upon the class-conscious character of the Mollies were Barman, Gowen, and Allan Pinkerton, who largely succeeded in tarring genuine labor activism and Irishness with the brush of criminality by sending the Mollies to the gallows.
Founded by the "original private eye," Allan Pinkerton, in 1850, Pinkerton is one of the world's largest and perhaps best known contract security services.
One of the permanent exhibits features Allan Pinkerton, founder of the famous American private detective agency.
They still stand up to some of the best pictures ever taken." Gardner, along with fellow Scot Allan Pinkerton, an ex-detective and head of the US's Intelligence Service - forerunner to the Secret Service - also created the world's first mug shots.
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His immediate supervisor was Major Allan Pinkerton (grandson of the famous Allan Pinkerton, Abraham Lincoln's chief spy during the Civil War), (11) who was president of the Pinkerton Detective Agency when he offered his services to the U.S.