Allan Pinkerton Is Born
Allan Pinkerton (1819-84), founder of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 25, 1819.
Pinkerton emigrated to the United States in 1842 and eventually established a barrel-making shop in a small town outside of Chicago. He was an ardent abolitionist, and his shop functioned as a "station" for escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North.
Pinkerton's career as a detective began by chance when he discovered a gang of counterfeiters operating in an area where he was gathering wood. His assistance—first in arresting these men and then another counterfeiter, led to his appointment as deputy sheriff of Kane County, Illinois, and, later, as Chicago's first full-time detective.
Pinkerton left his job with the Chicago police force to start his own detective agency. One of the first of its kind, this predecessor to Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, provided an array of private detective services—specializing in the capture of train robbers and counterfeiters and in providing private security services for a variety of industries. By the 1870s, Pinkerton's growing agency had accumulated an extensive collection of criminal dossiers and mug shots that became a model for other police forces.
Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to William Pinkerton and his wife, Isabell, in 1819. The location of the house where he was born is now occupied by the Glasgow Central Mosque. A cooper by trade, he was active in the British Chartist movement as a young man. Pinkerton married Joan Carfrae (a singer) secretly before moving to America. Disillusioned by the failure to win suffrage, Pinkerton emigrated to the United States in 1842, at the age of 23.
In 1849 Pinkerton was appointed as the first detective in Chicago. In the 1850s, he partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency which is still running (but has been renamed) as a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton's business insignia was a wide open eye with the caption "We never sleep." As the United States expanded in territory, rail transportation increased. Pinkerton's agency solved a series of train robberies during the 1850s, bringing Pinkerton first into contact with George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln.