Pinkerton, left, with President Abraham Lincoln
Who knew that Allan Pinkerton, the head of the greatest private detective agencies, was born in Glasgow, Scotland?
Born in the Gorbals, where the Glasgow Central Mosque is now, in 1819, just four years after the Battle of Waterloo.
Pinkerton is Scottish? before delving into research for my newest novel, I certainly didn’t know that.
And he was a bit of a rebel, a hot head… well coming from the Gorbals, I don’t doubt it. He secretly married a Glasgow singer, and then, finding out that politics were far better in the colonies, sailed to America.
He settled in Dundee, Illinois, near Chicago, but couldn’t keep politics out of his life. He campaigned for the Chicago Abolitionists and was so vehemently anti-slavery that his home was a part of the famous “Underground Railroad” which provided help, safety and security for runaway slaves. It is estimated that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had been saved by this network of such safe houses. He was the first detective appointed in Chicago.
He formed the North-Western Police Agency, which later became Pinkerton & Co, the famous detective agency.
During the American Civil War he invented/developed the art of surveillance, and following subjects.
During the American Civil War he invented/developed the art of the spy; going behind enemy lines for information.
During the American Civil War he formed the Presidential protection group, and saved President Abraham Lincoln from an assassination attempt.
During the American Civil War, his “Intelligence Service” became the basis for the US Secret Service.
After the war, he farmed out his talents to the highest bidders; the railroads, and foiled many robbers such as the Reno gang and Jesse James.
When he died, in 1884, he was working on a brand new idea; a national database for criminal cases. What a man ahead of his time.
And Scottish! Who would have known?