Pinkerton (detective agency)
|Industry||Private security contractor|
|Founded||Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Products||Investigations, employment screening, protective services, security, crisis management, intelligence services|
|Services||Security management, full-service risk management consulting|
|Parent||Securitas AB (2003–present)|
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. 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. Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organisation in the world at the height of its power.
During the labour strikes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, 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. The ensuing battle between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to the deaths of seven Pinkerton agents and nine steelworkers. 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 organisation was pejoratively called the "Pinks" by its opponents.
The company now operates as "Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc. d.b.a. Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management", a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB. The former Government Services division, PGS, now operates as Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services, Inc.
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.
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."
In 1871, Congress appropriated $50,000 (about equivalent to $1,021,000 in 2017) to the new Department of Justice (DOJ) to form a suborganisation 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.
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 organisation, may not be employed by the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia."
Chicago "Special Officers" and watchmen
- July 27, 1877: J.J. White, who had been hired as a "Special Officer" during a strike, was shot and killed.
- July 19, 1919: Hans Rassmuson, Special Officer, was shot and killed.
- March 12, 1924: Frank Miller, Pinkerton Watchman, was shot and killed.
In the 1870s, Franklin B. Gowen, then president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, hired the agency to "investigate" the labour 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 organisation. 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; the film starred Richard Harris, Sean Connery and Anthony Zerbe.
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.
Steunenberg murder and trial
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, against Western Federation of Miners president Big Bill Haywood, naming him as having hired the hit. With a stirring defence by Clarence Darrow, Haywood and the other defendants of the WFM were acquitted in a nationally publicised trial. Orchard received a death sentence, but it was commuted.
In 1890, Indiana University hired the Pinkerton Agency to investigate the authorship of a student "bogus" 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.
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, 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.
Due to its conflicts with labour unions, the word Pinkerton continues to be associated by labour organisers and union members with strikebreaking. Pinkertons, however, moved away from labor spying following revelations publicised by the La Follette Committee hearings in 1937. Pinkerton's criminal detection work also suffered from the police modernisation movement, which saw the rise of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the bolstering of detective branches and resources of the public police. Without the labour 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. In July 2003, Pinkerton was acquired along with longtime rival, the William J. Burns Detective Agency (founded in 1910), by Securitas AB to create Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., one of the largest security companies in the world.
- 1870–1925—Solid Silver Badge Engraved Lettering
- 1925–1930—Silver Colored Eagle Badge with Blue Lettering
- 1930–Present—Gold colored shield with Black Lettering
Appearance in popular media
- Author Beverly Jenkins makes reference to Pinkerton agents in many of her novels including, "Vivid" and "Before the Dawn".
- Allan Pinkerton himself and several agents play a vital role in the film American Outlaws (2001), starring Colin Farrell and Gabriel Macht as Jesse and Frank James. Pinkerton and his detectives are hired by the owner of the fictional Rock Northern Rail Road to track down Jesse James and his gang following a series of robberies aimed at the owner of the rail road.
- Captain Jackson is a Pinkerton who works with the British police in the UK police drama Ripper Street.
- The Pinkertons have been mentioned in series 1 and featured in series 2 and 3 of the HBO series Deadwood, and also the 1980 movie The Long Riders, where Pinkerton agents are depicted investigating criminal activity of the James brothers.
- In "False Colours" the eighth episode of the first series of the 1989 TV show The Young Riders, a detective named Pinkerton is working with the security of a gold shipment.
- In the fourth-series episode "Havre de Grace" of Boardwalk Empire, the character Roy Phillips is revealed to be a detective working for the agency.
- The protagonist of the video game BioShock Infinite, Booker DeWitt, is an ex-Pinkerton, known for his violent methods in putting down strikes. Given his description, he was probably part of a goon squad and involved in the Homestead Strike.
- The character Captain Homer Jackson in the BBC series Ripper Street is also revealed as an ex-Pinkerton agent in series one.
- Two Pinkerton Agents were featured in the movie The Legend of Zorro.
- The Pinkertons are featured in the 3:10 to Yuma remake featuring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, appearing at the start of the film defending a carriage from bandits.
- In Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, Felix Leiter worked for Pinkertons.
- Three Pinkerton Agents were featured in the first-season episode "Husbands & Fathers", of the BBC America show Copper.
- In 1966 Irwin Allen series The Time Tunnel on episode 12 "The Death Trap", Mr. Pinkerton, with the help of the two main characters, saved President Lincoln.
- In the Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear, Birdy Edwards is a Pinkerton agent. In the Sherlock Holmes novel Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, Frederick Chase claims to be a Pinkerton agent.
- In Penny Dreadful series 1 episode 8 "Grand Guignol" Ethan Chandler is confronted by 2 Pinkerton agents in a bar as his past catches up with him.
- In the 1994 western film Bad Girls the three main characters are being tracked down by two Pinkerton agents.
- The song "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun" on the 1970 Elton John album Tumbleweed Connection references 'the Pinkertons' – "The Pinkertons pulled out my bags and asked me for my name".
- 2012 The Hatfields and the McCoys Season 1 Part 1
- The song "Book, Saddle, And Go" on the 2013 Clutch album Earth Rocker references 'Pinkerton Man' – "Pinkerton man, murdering bastard, I’m gonna get even, get even with you, Get even with you".
- The Pinkertons, a scripted one-hour syndicated starring Angus Macfadyen as Allan Pinkerton, debuted in 2014.
- Cole Hauser plays Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton investigating Lizzie Borden, in the 2015 mini-series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.
- In Laird Barron's short story "Bulldozer", the Pinkerton protagonist Jonah Koenig hunts down a wanted criminal who also happens to dabble in profane occult rituals.
- Many Louis L'Amour books contain references to the Pinkertons, including Milo Talon
- Maria "Belle" Boyd, a lead character in Cherie Priest's steampunk novel Fiddlehead, works for the Pinkerton detective agency.
- In the 1997 James Cameron film Titanic, Spicer Lovejoy, Caledon Hockley's valet and bodyguard, was an ex-Pinkerton detective.
- In the online game Poptropica, Pinkerton's services are used to catch a thief on Mystery Train Island.
- Clive Cussler is often reputed to base his Isaac Bell series' Van Dorn Detective Agency upon the Pinkerton Detective Agency. This is often disputed, however.
- In the Canadian-American television drama When Calls the Heart, Pinkerton security officers are employed by the mining company managed by Henry Gowen (Martin Cummins)
- Michael Dorn played Mr. Eastman, a detective sent by the Pinkerton Detective Agency to investigate the kidnapping of a wealthy man's wife, in the tenth episode of the second season of the TV series The Dead Man's Gun titled "The Pinkerton", which originally aired on October 30, 1998.
- Allan Pinkerton was portrayed by Charlie Day in the second-series episode of Drunk History entitled "Baltimore". The episode relays the story of Allan Pinkerton successfully protecting Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Martin Starr, from assassination.
- Anti-union organizations in the United States
- Anti-union violence
- Baldwin-Felts detective agency
- Battle of Blair Mountain
- Coal and Iron Police, a Pinkerton-supervised private police force in Pennsylvania
- Colorado Labor Wars
- George Samuel Dougherty, private detective for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency from 1888–1911
- Morris Friedman, author of Pinkerton Labor Spy
- Dashiell Hammett, author and former Pinkerton operative
- Historian J. Bernard Hogg, public reaction to Pinkertonism and the Labor Question
- Industrial Workers of the World
- Labor spies
- Frank Little, American labor leader; lynched in 1917, allegedly by Pinkerton agents
- Murder of workers in labor disputes in the United States
- Timothy Webster
- "Pinkerton Government Services, Inc.: Private Company Information – Businessweek". investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- 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
- TM Becker (1974). "The place of private police in society: An area of research for the Social Sciences". Social Problems. Social Problems. 21 (3): 438–453. doi:10.1525/sp.1974.21.3.03a00110. JSTOR 799910.
- "Strike at Homestead Mill". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- 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
- 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
- Robinson, Charles M (2005). American Frontier Lawmen 1850-1930. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-575-9.p. 63
- Horan, James David; Howard Swiggett (1951). The Pinkerton Story. Putnam.p. 202
- 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
- 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. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009.
- 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 organisation from providing such services lest it be branded a 'similar organisation.'" 557 F.2d at 462; see also "GAO Decision B-298370; B-298490, Brian X. Scott (Aug. 18, 2006)".
- "White, J.J." Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
- "Rassmuson, Hans". Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
- "Miller, Frank". Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
- Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, W.W. Norton & Company, 1983, page 90
- Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, W.W. Norton & Company, 1983, page 140
- Clark, Thomas D. (1970). Indiana University Midwestern Pioneer: The Early Years. Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press. pp. 257–260. ISBN 0-253-14170-2.
- Kellams, Dina (October 12, 2016). "Sincerely Yours: The Pinkerton Detective Agency". Blogging Hoosier History. Indiana University Libraries. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
- "Deputy Sheriff Edwin P. Daniels". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP).
- Williams, David Ricardo (1998). Call in Pinkerton's: American Detectives at Work for Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-550023-06-3.
- 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
- 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.
- "The Pinkertons TV Series". Rosetta Media and Buffalo Gal Pictures. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- 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.
- Distler, A. David (2008). Anarchy in the Heartland-The Reno Gang Saga (A. Pinkerton & Sons direct involvement in 1868). Chagrin Falls, Ohio. ISBN 978-0-9705297-1-8.
- Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (2003). Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10159-7.
- Friedman, Morris (1907). The Pinkerton's Labor Spy. New York: Wilshire Book Co. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- O'Hara, S. Paul Inventing the Pinkertons; or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). x, 194 pp.
- Siringo, Charles A. (1912). A Cowboy Detective: A True Story of Twenty-Two Years with a World-Famous Detective Agency. Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
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