Pioneering Detective Makes His Mark On American History


The United States in the 1860’s was a crazy world of rebellions, gangs, robberies, and murderers. Who was there to silence the foes and restore order to the U.S.A…. none other than Allan Pinkerton, Abraham Lincoln’s elite spymaster.

The book Lincoln’s Spymaster by Samantha Seiple was informative, action packed, and at parts, tear-jerking. Pinkerton was born into a poor family in Scotland and was a part of an organization called the Chartists who wanted equal rights and fair working conditions for all Scottish workers. However, protests sometimes got Pinkerton into hot water and before he knew it, he was a wanted man. He fled Scotland to America with his wife, Joan. Seiple’s description of Pinkerton’s early life helped establish Pinkerton’s hard working and determined personality.

Once in the U.S., he came to Illinois to become a cooper (someone who makes wooden vessels.) Later, he discovered that his true passion was detective work. Pinkerton went to Chicago to join the police force, and soon after, opened his own detective agency.

Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency became well known and he was hired to protect soon to be president Abraham Lincoln. There was a plot to murder president Lincoln in Baltimore before his inaugural address. Pinkerton, who had traveled to Baltimore to investigate, warned Lincoln in time and was able to prevent it. Winning Lincoln’s trust, Pinkerton went on to bust confederate plans, capture wanted criminals, and help president Lincoln throughout the American Civil War. Seiple intertwines Pinkerton’s legacy and heroic sacrifice well and I enjoyed the description of his commitment to the Union.

Based on the incredible true story of the American hero Allan Pinkerton, I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. Readers ages nine and up who want to uncover an unsung hero of the American 1860’s will be entertained by Lincoln’s Spymaster and the guts and grit of Allan Pinkerton.