The founder of one of America’s best-known detective agencies, Pinkerton believed in the need to change unjust laws; his principles made him a militant force against slavery.
Allan Pinkerton left school at ten to become a cooper (barrelmaker). A militant Chartist, he advocated reforms such as universal manhood suffrage, then a radical idea in Great Britain. Fearing arrest for his activities, Pinkerton with his wife left for the United States in 1842, settling in Dundee, Illinois.
Allan Pinkerton (front left) during the Civil War.
Pinkerton was successful as a cooper, and his antislavery activities aroused community hostility. His friends included former slave
In 1869, Pinkerton suffered a debilitating stroke, never fully recovering. Because of his increasingly erratic activity and his involvement in the controversial
Josephson, Judith Pinkerton. Allan Pinkerton: The Original Private Eye. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner, 1996. Mackay, James. Allan Pinkerton: The First Private Eye. 1997. Edison, N.J.: Castle Books, 2007.
Civil War, U.S.