Pinkerton (detective agency)

Pinkerton
Private incorporation
IndustryPrivate security contractor
FoundedChicago, Illinois, United States
(1850; 169 years ago (1850))
FounderAllan Pinkerton
Area served
Worldwide
ProductsInvestigations, employment screening, protective services, security, crisis management, intelligence services
ServicesSecurity management, full-service risk management consulting
Parentwww.pinkerton.com

Pinkerton, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, is a private security guard and detective agency established in the United States by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton in 1850 and currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB.[1] Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War.[2] Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. Notably, the Pinkerton Detective Agency hired women and minorities, a practice uncommon at the time.[3] Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.[4]

During the labor strikes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, businessmen hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers. One such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to reinforce the strikebreaking measures of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie.[5] The ensuing battle between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to the deaths of seven Pinkerton agents and nine steelworkers.[6] The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.

The company now operates as "Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc. d.b.a. Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management", a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB. The former Government Services division, PGS, now operates as Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services, Inc.[7]

Origins

Original company logo

In the 1850s, Allan Pinkerton, Scottish detective and spy, met Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in a local Masonic Hall and formed the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton Agency.[8][9][10]

Historian Frank Morn writes: "By the mid-1850s a few businessmen saw the need for greater control over their employees; their solution was to sponsor a private detective system. In February 1855, Allan Pinkerton, after consulting with six midwestern railroads, created such an agency in Chicago."[11]

Other Languages