Biography of Allan Pinkerton Essay

Allan Pinkerton was the founder of one of the most top detective agencies in American. Allan Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1819. Pinkerton was the son of a police sergeant who ended up getting injured on the job and he was not able to work which caused Pinkerton to grow up in poverty. His father ended up dying from these injuries in 1828 from a prisoner he had in his custody. In order for Pinkerton to support his family, he worked as a barrel maker that eventually ran afoul of local authorities over his membership in the Chartist movement.

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In 1842, Allan emigrated to Chicago, Illinois to work as a cooper for Lill’s Brewery for a few years before relocating to Dundee where the Scottish immigrants settled. Pinkerton had hopes of establishing his own business to make a good living for his family. Pinkerton never had any intensions on become a detective until stumbling across illegal activities that caught his attention.

“While wandering the forest near Dundee looking for wood for barrel staves, he stumbled across a band of rural counterfeiters hard at work.

Pinkerton notified the local sheriff and returned with him to make the arrest” (smith, n. . ). His successes lead him to become a party time deputy for the county. Shortly after, he was a Deputy Sherriff of Cook County with headquarters in Chicago. “There he organized a force of detectives to capture thieves who were stealing railway property, and this organization developed in 1852 into Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, of which he took sole charge in 1853” (NNDB, 2010). The Pinkerton Detective Agency was the first in the United States to solve a series of train robberies. There were several major events involving the Pinkerton Detective Agency during Pinkerton’s lifetime.

In 1861, the Pinkerton agency protected Abraham Lincoln from a plot to assassinate him on his way to the inauguration in Baltimore. During the Civil War, Pinkerton became head of the American secret service that led the pursuit of the famous outlaw Jessie James, who established a gang of robbers and killers during 1862. “In 1866, his agency captured the principals in the theft of $700,000 from Adams Express company safes on a train of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway, and recovered all but $12,000 of the stolen money” (NNDB, 2010).

Pinkerton also investigated criminal activities of the Molly Maguires in Schuylkill County dealing with the coalmines. One of Pinkerton’s men by the name of James McParland, collected evidence about the Molly Maguires that lead to series of crimes in Schuylkill County. “McParland estimated that the group had over 3,000 members who were given orders to commit crimes. This included the murder of around fifty men in Schuylkill County. Many of these men were the managers of coal mines in the region” (Spartacus Educational, n. . ).

The Pinkerton agency had a great impact on law enforcement and the private security industry. After Pinkerton’s death, his legacy carried on by his two sons William and Robert Pinkerton during the late 1800’s. His two sons became spokesmen offering security procedures to banks, shipping offices, and other companies that dealt with handing and moving money. The agency became a teaching tool for many law enforcement and private security agencies in the nation.

For decades, the Pinkerton agency was involved in activities against labor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, because of the rise of other detective branches and the rise of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Pinkerton’s detective work suffered and they became more involved in protection services. Pinkerton merged operations to become part of the Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. , which is the largest security service in the world today. The legacy continues with Pinkerton’s agency by offering security and protection from crime all over the world.


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