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Pinkerton Allan
(18191884)
Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches

Pinkerton Allan(18191884) Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches

American detective, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, b. Glasgow, Scotland. A cooper by trade, he emigrated to the United States in 1842 and opened in West Dundee, Ill., a coopers shop, which became a station on the Underground Railroad. His discovery and capture of a band of counterfeiters led to his appointment (1846) as county sheriff and, in 1850, to an appointment as the first city detective on the Chicago police force. He established in the same year a private detective agency, which had considerable success in solving train- and express-company robberies. In 1861 he foiled a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, and in the Civil War Pinkerton organized and directed an espionage system behind the Confederate lines. His agency secured (1869) evidence on which the Molly Maguires were broken up. After Pinkertons death, the agency was continued by his sons, Robert A. Pinkerton and William A. Pinkerton, and was active in breaking the Homestead strike of 1892. For its role in industrial disputes on behalf of management, particularly in its use of labor spies, the agency was denounced by organized labor. Pinkerton wrote of his own experiences in Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches (1879) and other books.

Pinkerton produced numerous popular detective books, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavour. Most historians believe that Allan Pinkerton hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and no doubt reflect his own views.


Guyana, 1996, Mickey as Pinkerton

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