"I have in my Force from sixteen to eighteen persons on whose
courage, skill, and devotion to their country I can rely. If they,
with myself at the head, can be at service in any way of obtaining
information of the movements of traitors, or safely conveying your
letters or dispatches, or that class of Secret Service, which is most
dangerous, I am at your command."
In an election year we hear the Secret Service alluded to quite
often. Very few of us know how this agency started out. Its
beginning is portrayed quite vividly in Samantha Seiple's biography of
Allan Pinkerton: Lincoln's Spymaster.
Lincoln's election was highly controversial. Plenty of people
didn't want him to get to DC for his inauguration. A group of
Confederate sympathizers, the Palmetto Guards, was planning to take
lethal means to prevent this event. It was up to detective Allan
Pinkerton and his operatives to infiltrate them, learn the details of
their plot, and find a way to thwart it. After they succeeded in
their mission Pinkerton made Lincoln an offer he couldn't refuse.
Even apart from his colorful and highly dangerous work in the
service of his country and later in the wild, wild West, Pinkerton is
a fascinating character. He was a highly unlikely government spy. He
had to flee his native Scotland to avoid arrest with a price on his
head. Arriving in the United States he established himself as a
cooper (barrel maker).
Pinkerton was way ahead of his time in his views on women.
Notice in the quote above he uses the word persons where most folks
would have used men. He hired women as operatives and included them
in his A Team. That was radical in a time when women were considered
the property of husbands.
Lincoln's Spymaster is a great asset for convincing action
loving students that history has a lot going for it. I feel it's a
must acquire for school and public libraries.
On a personal note, last Saturday night there was a cook out a street
over. I had put a box of rescued toys and books on my lawn. I went
over to tell the kids there about my free box. They and their parents
were so happy with the goodies. I was invited to stay. After the
eating there was a bonfire. I impressed people with my rendition of
You Took A Bad Time To Leave Me Lucille. After my second wine cooler
when the sun had set I excused myself to rest up for church.
A great big shout out goes out to the family who held the cook out to
raise money to fight Alzheimers.
Sent from my iPod