PINKERTON, ALLAN (1810-1884), American detective, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 25th of August 1819. His father, a sergeant of the Glasgow municipal police, died in 1828 of injuries received from a prisoner in his custody. In 1842 Allan emigrated to Chicago, Illinois. In 1843 he removed to Dundee, Kane county, Illinois, where he established a cooperage business. Here he ran down a gang of counterfeiters, and he was appointed a deputy-sheriff of Kane county in 1846 and immediately afterwards of Cook county, with headquarters in Chicago. There he organized a force of detectives to capture thieves who were stealing railway property, and this organization developed in 1852 into Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, of which he took sole charge in 1853. He was especially successful in capturing thieves who stole large amounts from express companies. In 1866 his agency captured the principals in the theft of $700,000 from Adams Express Company safes on a train of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway, and recovered all but about $12,000 of the stolen money. In February 1861 Pinkerton found evidence of a plot to assassinate President-elect Lincoln upon his arrival in Baltimore on his way to Washington; as a result, Lincoln passed through Baltimore at an early hour in the morning without stopping. In April 1861 Pinkerton, on the suggestion of General George B. McClellan, organized a system of obtaining military information in the Southern states. From this system he developed the Federal secret service, of which he was in charge throughout the war, under the assumed name of Major E. J. Allen. One of his detectives, James McParlan, in 1873-1876 lived among the Molly Maguires (q.v.) in Pennsylvania and secured evidence which led to the breaking up of the organization. In 1869 Pinkerton suffered a partial stroke of paralysis, and thereafter the management of the detective agency devolved chiefly upon his sons, William Allan (b. 1846) and Robert (1848-1907). He died in Chicago on the 1st of July 1884. He published The Molly Maguires and the Detectives (1877), The Spy of the Rebellion (1883), in which he gave his version of President-elect Lincoln's journey to Washington; and Thirty Years a Detective (1884).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)