Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893

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Anti-Pinkerton Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titlesSundry Civil Appropriations Act of 1893
Long titleAn Act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-four, and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial)APA
NicknamesAnti-Pinkerton Act of 1893
Enacted bythe 52nd United States Congress
EffectiveMarch 3, 1893
Public law52-208
Statutes at Large27 Stat. 572 aka 27 Stat. 591
Titles amended5 U.S.C.: Government Organization and Employees
U.S.C. sections created5 U.S.C. ch. 31, subch. I § 3108
Legislative history

The Anti-Pinkerton Act was a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1893 to limit the federal government's ability to hire private investigators or mercenaries.

The Anti-Pinkerton Act is contained within 5 U.S.C. 3108 and purports to specifically restrict the government of the United States (as well as that of the District of Columbia) from hiring employees of Pinkerton or similar organizations.

The first published court case interpreting the Act, in 1977, held that the intent of the Act was in reference to Pinkerton's activities at the time, offering quasi-military armed forces for hire in the context of strikebreaking (not least the Homestead strike in 1892), "and therefore had little application" to the current organization.[1]

In actuality, the United States government is a significant customer of private security services, and has made use of private military contractors in the past.

Statement of the Act[edit]

That hereafter no employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar agency, shall be employed in any Government service or by any officer of the District of Columbia.


  1. ^ "Comments Concerning the Anti-Pinkerton Act" (PDF). U.S. GAO ~ B-139965. U.S. Government Accountability Office. March 6, 1980.