Tuesday, August 25, 2009

America's First Detective

A detective and spy, and the founder of the first detective agency in the United States, Allan Pinkerton was born on August 25th 1819.

Allan Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland August 25th 1819 the son of William and Isabel Pinkerton. He emigrated to the US in 1842. In 1850 Pinkerton joined with lawyer Edward Rucker of Chicago IL to form the North-Western Police Agency, which would become in 1852 the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. It was the first detective agency in the United States. He guarded Abraham Lincoln on his way to his first inauguration, protecting him from an alleged assassination plot. With the outbreak of the Civil War Pinkerton served as the head of the Union Intelligence Service at the sugestion of General George B McClellan [this was the forerunner of the Secret Service]. Pinkerton and his agents often worked undercover as Confederate soldiers and sympathizers to gain information. He used an alias of Major E J Allen.

His agency led in the pursuit for Frank and Jessie James between 1867 and 1875. One of the Pinkerton’s agents, James McParland infiltrated the secret society of the Molly Maguires in 1875, leading to the execution of twenty of its members.

In June of 1884 he slipped and bit his tongue. Pinkerton didn’t get any treatment, and his tongue became infected. He died July 1st 1884. Pinkerton is buried in Chicago Illinois in the  Graceland Cemetery. At the time of his death he was working on a method of centralizing criminal records, a data base now maintained by the FBI.

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