Pinkerton National Detective Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
"We Never Sleep", the famous motto of the Pinkerton Agency, redirects here. For the 1917 film starring Harold Lloyd, see We Never Sleep (film).
Pinkerton guards escort strikebreakers in Buchtel, Ohio, 1884

The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, usually shortened to the Pinkertons, was a private U.S. security guard and detective agency established by Allan Pinkerton in 1850. Pinkerton had become famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War.[citation needed] Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. At its height, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more agents than there were members of the standing army of the United States of America, causing the state of Ohio to outlaw the agency due to fears it could be hired out as a private army or militia.[citation needed]

During the labor unrest of the late 19th century, businessmen hired Pinkerton agents to infiltrate unions, and as guards to keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories. The most well known such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to enforce the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, who was abroad; the ensuing conflicts between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to several deaths on both sides. The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as the railroad strikes of 1887.

The company now operates as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, although its government division is still known as Pinkerton Government Services. The organization was pejoratively called the "Pinks" by the outlaws and opponents.

Pinkerton logo


[edit] Origins

In the 1850s, Allan Pinkerton partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker, in forming the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton Agency. [1][2][3]

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."[4]

[edit] Government work

In 1871, Congress appropriated $50,000 to the new Department of Justice (DOJ) to form a suborganization devoted to "the detection and prosecution of those guilty of violating federal law." The amount was insufficient for the DOJ to fashion an integral investigating unit, so the DOJ contracted out the services to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.[5]

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."[6]

[edit] Chicago "Special Officers" & Watchman

  • July 27, 1877 J.J. White-who had been hired as a "special Officer" during a strike- was shot and killed. [1]
  • July 19, 1919 Hans Rassmuson-Special Officer {Watchman}-shot and killed. [2]
  • March 12,1924 Frank Miller-Pinkerton Watchman-shot and killed. [3]

[edit] 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, infiltrated the Molly Maguires using the alias James McKenna, leading to the downfall of the labor organization. The incident was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear. A Pinkerton agent also appears in a small role in The Adventure of the Red Circle, another Holmes story.

Pinkerton men leaving a barge after their surrender during the Homestead Strike

[edit] Homestead Strike

During the Homestead Strike, the arrival, on July 6, 1892, of a force of 300 Pinkerton detectives from New York and Chicago, who were called in by Henry Clay Frick to protect the mill and replacement workers ("scabs"), resulted in a fight in which 16 men were killed (7 Pinkertons and 9 Strikers died), and to restore order two brigades of the state militia were called out. It was not uncommon for Pinkerton detectives to use excess force and coercion resulting in the murder of union laborers[citation needed].

[edit] Detective Frank P. Geyer

In 1895 Pinkerton detective Frank Geyer tracked down the three murdered Pitezel children leading to the eventual trial and execution of the United States' first (known or identified) serial killer Herman Mudgett (aka. H.H. Holmes). His story is told in his self-written book, The Holmes-Pitezel Case (ISBN-10: B000RB43NM). It should also be noted that in 1894, Pinkertons were also the ones who apprehended Holmes in Boston on an outstanding warrant for horse theft in Texas.

[edit] Steunenberg murder and trial

Harry Orchard was arrested by the Idaho police and confessed to Pinkerton agent James McParland that he assassinated Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho and received a sentence of life imprisonment in a nationally publicized trial.

[edit] 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 James Gang); Daniels, John Younger, and one Pinkerton Agent were killed.

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 labor unions, the word Pinkerton continues to be associated by labor organizers and union members with strikebreaking.[7] Pinkerton's, however, moved away from labor spying following revelations publicized by the La Follette Committee hearings in 1937.[8] Pinkerton'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. Without the industrial espionage against labor and criminal investigation work on which Pinkerton's 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.[9] In July 2003, Pinkerton's 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. Securitas, and several other major security companies, are now under union organization through the SEIU (Services Employees International Union), ironically bringing Pinkerton under labor organization, which it had been used so fervently to disrupt only decades earlier.[citation needed]

[edit] Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations

Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation's modern logo

Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations emerged out of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The agency merged with the William J. Burns Detective Agency in 2003 under Securitas AB.[10]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Foner, Eric; John Arthur Garraty, eds. (Oct 21, 1991). The Reader's Companion to American History. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 0-395-51372-3. p. 842
  2. ^ Robinson, Charles M (2005). American Frontier Lawmen 1850-1930. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-575-9. p. 63
  3. ^ Horan, James David; Howard Swiggett (1951). The Pinkerton Story. Putnam. p. 202
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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).". 
  7. ^ Williams, David Ricardo (1998). Call in Pinkerton's: American Detectives at Work for Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-550023-06-3. 
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ History.

[edit] External links

[edit] Further reading

  • Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (Oct 1, 2003). Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10159-7. 
  • Distler, A. David (Oct 10, 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. 
Personal tools