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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Pinkerton Detective Agency:

I reminded myself of this outfit when reading that Allan Pinkerton carried two Tranter revolvers as his personal 'equippe'. Scots born Pinkerton aged 23 emigrated to America in 1842 (fleeing an arrest warrant for his political activities as a 'Chartist') and worked making barrels until he joined the Chicago police in 1847.
The original "Private Eye".

 He opened his first 'Pinkerton Detective Agency' office after just three years with the police, in Chicago in 1850.

- The modern company website refers to its business as "..the birth of a noble profession." - Well I guess in the true capitalist spirit of US culture - that would be entirely correct - in that he followed the money and provided security and 'muscle' to various millionaire Railroad Barons and Mining 'Captains' - and other assorted powerful rogues and enterprising businessmen .. by doing what was required to protect property and life (that is - of the wealthy customer who paid well).
Pinkerton Agents Escort Strike Breakers in 1884

I guess you have to weigh the rights of the minority (captains of industry) against the majority - hungry, poor workers and their families eh.

By the early 1890s, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more 'agents' than there were members of the United States Army. - They specialised in providing 'goon squads' - strike breaking, infiltrating trade unions, and intimidating workers. - and they provided security guards to protect business assets.

William Pinkerton & Railroad Special Agents.(1870s)

In 1871 the US Government paid $50,000 to the Department of Justice who in turn contracted-out their investigation unit to the "Pinks." - However in 1893 the 'Anti-Pinkerton Act' (5USC3108) ** stated that no Pinkerton (or similar organisation) employee may be employed by the US Govt. or the Government of the District of Columbia. - So ended that deal!

Pinkerton agents were hired to track-down many outlaws including Jesse James, The Wild Bunch (inc. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid), the Reno Gang and the Younger Brothers.
Allan Pinkerton 1884.

January 25 1875, Allan Pinkerton led a raid on the James family farm as a personal vendetta. His attacking 'detectives' threw an incendiary device into the house killing James' half brother and blowing an arm off the family mother Zerelda Samuel. - These were violent times.

The coming of The FBI, (Federal Bureau Of Investigation), considerably reduced the market for 'The Pinks' detective work so they changed emphasis into the current 'security' field - and are - since 2003 - now part of Securitas AB.
Both compact model M1873 and M1877 Colts have been called 'The Pinkerton Model.

  A different direction:-  The 'Pinks' may never have operated in NZ (Securitas does) - but a David Pinkerton sailed with his family from Scotland to New Zealand in 1860 lured by gold and became a prominent figure here supporting workers rights and as a union leader and head of the Otago Trades and Labour Council!

The FBI dates from 1908 /1910.  - In 1882 Theodore Roosevelt boasted to Attorney General Charles Bonapart  that Border Patrol applicants had to pass marksmanship tests - with the best shots getting the jobs .. Bonapart retorted (tongue-in-cheek) - that target shooting was not the way to get the best men but that "Roosevelt should have had the men shoot at each other and given the jobs to the survivors."

**  Was 5USC3108 the "Anti Pinkerton Act" dated March 3 1893 repealed?  - How is it that the US Govt. currently employs the various 'Security Contractors' (Mercenaries, private armies - such as Custer Battles, G4S Risk Management, GK Sierra, MVM Inc., etc.) in Iraq & Afghanistan and elsewhere - which that Act forbids?

I don't know ..

Marty K.