Pinkerton (detective agency)
  (Redirected from Pinkerton National Detective Agency)
"Pinkertons" and "We Never Sleep" redirect here. For other uses, see Pinkerton (disambiguation). For the 1917 film starring Harold Lloyd, see We Never Sleep (film).
Pinkerton, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, is a private security guard and detective agency established in the United States by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton in 1850 and currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB.[1] Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War.[2] Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency hired women and minorities from its founding, a practice uncommon at the time.[3] Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.[4]
TypePrivate incorporation
IndustryPrivate security contractor
FoundedChicago, Illinois, United States
(1850; 171 years ago)
FounderAllan Pinkerton
Area served
ServicesSecurity management, risk management consulting, investigations, employment screening, protective services, security, crisis management, intelligence services
ParentSecuritas AB (2003–present)
During the labor strikes of the late 19th, early 20th and early 21st centuries,[5] businessmen hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers. One such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to reinforce the strikebreaking measures of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie.[6] The ensuing battle between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to the deaths of three Pinkerton agents and nine steelworkers.[7][8] The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.
The company has continued to exist in various forms through to the present day, and is now a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, operating as "Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc. d.b.a. Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management".[9] The former Government Services division, PGS, now operates as "Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services, Inc.".[10][dead link]
In the 1850s, Allan Pinkerton, Scottish detective and spy, met Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in a local Masonic Hall and formed the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton Agency.[11][12][13]
Historian Frank Morn writes: "By the mid-1850s a few businessmen saw the need for greater control over their employees; their solution was to sponsor a private detective system. In February 1855, Allan Pinkerton, after consulting with six midwestern railroads, created such an agency in Chicago."[14]
Among the business's early operations was to safely deliver the newly-elected President of the United States Abraham Lincoln to Washington D.C. in light of an assassination threat. Pinkerton detective Kate Warne was assigned and successfully delivered Lincoln to the US capital city through a series of disguises and related tactics that required her to stay awake throughout the entire long journey. As a result of the public notoriety of this success, the business adapted an open eye as its logo and the slogan, "We never sleep."[15]
Government work
Pinkerton guards escort strikebreakers in Buchtel, Ohio, 1884
In 1871, Congress appropriated $50,000 (about equivalent to $1,067,000 in 2019) to the new Department of Justice (DOJ) to form a sub-organization devoted to "the detection and prosecution of those guilty of violating federal law." The amount was insufficient for the new DOJ to fashion an internal investigating unit, so they contracted out the services to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.[16]
However, since passage of the Anti-Pinkerton Act in 1893, federal law has stated that an "individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization, may not be employed by the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia."[17]
Chicago "Special Officers" and watchmen
Molly Maguires
Main article: Molly Maguires
In the 1870s, Franklin B. Gowen, then president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, hired the agency to "investigate" the labor unions in the company's mines. A Pinkerton agent, James McParland, using the alias "James McKenna", infiltrated the Molly Maguires, a 19th-century secret society of mainly Irish-American coal miners, leading to the downfall of the labor organization.
The incident inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear (1914–1915). A Pinkerton agent also appears in a small role in "The Adventure of the Red Circle", a 1911 Holmes story. A 1970 film, The Molly Maguires, was loosely based upon the incident as well.
Pinkerton men leaving a barge after their surrender during the Homestead Strike
Homestead Strike
Main article: Homestead Strike
Frick's letter describing the plans and munitions that will be on the barges when the Pinkertons arrive to confront the strikers in Homestead
On July 6, 1892, during the Homestead Strike, 300 Pinkerton detectives from New York and Chicago were called in by Carnegie Steel's Henry Clay Frick to protect the Pittsburgh-area mill and strikebreakers. This resulted in a firefight and siege in which 16 men were killed, and 23 others were wounded. To restore order, two brigades of the Pennsylvania militia were called out by the Governor.
As a legacy of the Pinkertons' involvement, a bridge connecting the nearby Pittsburgh suburbs of Munhall and Rankin was named Pinkerton's Landing Bridge.
Steunenberg murder and trial
Main article: Frank Steunenberg
Harry Orchard was arrested by the Idaho police and confessed to Pinkerton agent James McParland that he assassinated former Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho in 1905. Orchard testified (unsuccessfully), under threat of hanging,[21] against Western Federation of Miners president Big Bill Haywood, naming him as having hired the hit. With a stirring defense by Clarence Darrow, Haywood and the other defendants of the WFM were acquitted in a nationally publicized trial. Orchard received a death sentence, but it was commuted.[22]
Indiana University
Bogus written and distributed by Indiana University students in 1890. The Pinkerton Agency was hired to find the authors.
In 1890, Indiana University hired the Pinkerton Agency to investigate the authorship of a student "bogus", an underground newsletter, that had been distributed throughout town. While boguses were not uncommon, this particular one attacked IU faculty and students with such graphic language that Bloomington residents complained. The detective arrived in Bloomington on April 26 and spent nearly two weeks conducting interviews and dispatching regular reports back to the home office. In the end, it was town talk that led to the student authors and not the work of the agent. The seven Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers were from locally prominent families, including the son of a Trustee, but all were expelled. In 1892, however, the Trustees granted five of the men their degrees and all seven were reinstated in good standing.[23][24]
Outlaws and competition
Pinkerton agents were hired to track western outlaws Jesse James, the Reno Gang, and the Wild Bunch (including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). On March 17, 1874, two Pinkerton Detectives and a deputy sheriff, Edwin P. Daniels,[25] encountered the Younger brothers (associates of the James-Younger Gang); Daniels, John Younger, and one Pinkerton agent were killed. In Union, Missouri a bank was robbed by George Collins, aka Fred Lewis, and Bill Randolph; Pinkerton Detective Chas Schumacher trailed them and was killed. Collins was hanged on March 26, 1904, and Randolph was hanged on May 8, 1905, in Union. Pinkertons were also hired for transporting money and other high-quality merchandise between cities and towns, which made them vulnerable to outlaws. Pinkerton agents were usually well paid and well armed.
G.H. Thiel, a former Pinkerton employee, established the Thiel Detective Service Company in St. Louis, Missouri, a competitor to the Pinkerton agency. The Thiel company operated in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Modern era
Due to its conflicts with labor unions, the word Pinkerton continues to be associated by labor organizers and union members with strikebreaking.[26] Pinkertons diversified from labor spying following revelations publicized by the La Follette Committee hearings in 1937,[27] and the firm's criminal detection work also suffered from the police modernization movement, which saw the rise of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the bolstering of detective branches and resources of the public police. With less of the labor and criminal investigation work on which Pinkertons thrived for decades, the company became increasingly involved in protection services, and in the 1960s, even the word "detective" disappeared from the agency's letterhead.[28] The company now focuses on threat intelligence, risk management, executive protection, and active shooter response.
In 1999, the company was bought by Securitas AB, a Swedish security company, for $384 million,[29] followed by the acquisition of the William J. Burns Detective Agency (founded in 1910), longtime Pinkerton rival, to create (as a division of the parent) Securitas Security Services USA. Today, the company's headquarters are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[30]
Appearance in popular media
Video games
See also
  1. ^ "Pinkerton Government Services, Inc.: Private Company Information – Businessweek". investing.businessweek.com​. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  2. ^ Green, James (2006). Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42237-4.p. 43
  3. ^ Seiple, Samantha (2015). Lincoln's spymaster : Allan Pinkerton, America's first private eye. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0-545-70901-9. OCLC 922643750.
  4. ^ TM Becker (1974). "The place of private police in society: An area of research for the Social Sciences". Social Problems. 21 (3): 438–453. doi​:​10.1525/sp.1974.21.3.03a00110​. JSTOR 799910.
  5. ^ Katie Canales (2020). "Amazon is using union-busting Pinkerton spies to track warehouse workers and labor movements at the company, according to a new report". Business Insider.
  6. ^ "Strike at Homestead Mill". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  7. ^ Krause, Paul (1992). The Battle for Homestead, 1890-1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel. University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-5466-4. p.20-21
  8. ^ Krause, Paul; Krause, Paul; Paul Avrich Collection (Library of Congress) DLC (1992). The battle for Homestead, 1880-1892 : politics, culture, and steel. Internet Archive. Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh Press.
  9. ^ "Press Kit" (PDF). Justia Law. 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  10. ^ LinkedIn
  11. ^ Foner, Eric; Garraty, John Arthur, eds. (Oct 21, 1991). The Reader's Companion to American History. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 0-395-51372-3.p. 842
  12. ^ Robinson, Charles M (2005). American Frontier Lawmen 1850-1930. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-575-9.p. 63
  13. ^ Horan, James David; Howard Swiggett (1951). The Pinkerton Story. Putnam.p. 202
  14. ^ Morn, Frank (1982). The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32086-0. p. 18
  15. ^ O'Reilly, Terry. "How a detective used a disguise to save the life of a president". Under the Influence. CBC. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  16. ^ Churchill, Ward (Spring 2004). "From the Pinkertons to the PATRIOT Act: The Trajectory of Political Policing in the United States, 1870 to the Present". The New Centennial Review. 4 (1): 1–72. doi​:​10.1353/ncr.2004.0016​. S2CID 145098109. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009.
  17. ^ 5 U.S. Code 3108; Public Law 89-554, 80 Stat. 416 (1966); ch. 208 (5th par. under "Public Buildings"), 27 Stat. 591 (1893). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in U.S. ex rel. Weinberger v. Equifax, 557 F.2d 456 (5th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1035 (1978), held that "The purpose of the Act and the legislative history reveal that an organization was 'similar' to the Pinkerton Detective Agency only if it offered for hire mercenary, quasi-military forces as strikebreakers and armed guards. It had the secondary effect of deterring any other organization from providing such services lest it be branded a 'similar organization.'" 557 F.2d at 462; see also "GAO Decision B-298370; B-298490, Brian X. Scott (Aug. 18, 2006)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  18. ^ "White, J.J." Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  19. ^ "Rassmuson, Hans". Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  20. ^ "Miller, Frank". Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  21. ^ Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, W.W. Norton & Company, 1983, page 90
  22. ^ Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, W.W. Norton & Company, 1983, page 140
  23. ^ Clark, Thomas D. (1970). Indiana University Midwestern Pioneer: The Early Years. Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press. pp. 257–260. ISBN 0-253-14170-2.
  24. ^ Kellams, Dina (October 12, 2016). "Sincerely Yours: The Pinkerton Detective Agency". Blogging Hoosier History. Indiana University Libraries. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  25. ^ "Deputy Sheriff Edwin P. Daniels". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP).
  26. ^ Williams, David Ricardo (1998). Call in Pinkerton's: American Detectives at Work for Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-550023-06-3.
  27. ^ Morn, Frank (1982). The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32086-0. p. 188-189
  28. ^ Morn, Frank (1982). The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32086-0. p. 192.
  29. ^ The Pinkertons Still Never Sleep, New Republic, 23 March 2018
  30. ^ About Securitas USA (company site)
  31. ^ "The Pinkertons TV Series". Rosetta Media and Buffalo Gal Pictures. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 23, 2014). "Angus Macfadyen Set To Play Allan Pinkerton In Syndicated Drama Series 'The Pinkertons'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  33. ^ "Rockstar defends Pinkerton name in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’", The Washington Post (Associated Press), January 19, 2019.
  34. ^ Nicholson, Tom. "The Actual Pinkerton Detective Agency Is Suing 'Red Dead Redemption 2'", Esquire, January 18, 2019.
  35. ^ Robertson, Adi (2019-04-11). "Take-Two dropped its lawsuit over Red Dead Redemption 2's Pinkerton agents". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
Further reading
Jonathan Obert. 2018. "Pinkertons and Police in Antebellum Chicago." in The Six-Shooter State: Public and Private Violence in American Politics. Cambridge University Press.
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pinkerton National Detective Agency.
Last edited on 3 May 2021, at 16:46
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