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Detective Pinkerton Refuted Stories of Lincoln's Trip through Baltimore

Cartoon showing Lincoln sneaking through Baltimore
Cartoon showing Lincoln sneaking through Baltimore

Allan Pinkerton, famous principal of Pinkerton Detective Agency, was involved in the action that involved sneaking President-elect through Baltimore in February 1861. Pinkerton’s agents had infiltrated a group in the very pro-secession Maryland city who were intent on killing Lincoln so that he would not ever be inaugurated as president.

Pinkerton, in a letter to Lincoln’s personal bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, in December 1867 was trying to see if the two of them could come to some sort of agreement as to what happened on the adventure. Pinkerton had been asked to publish a magazine article on the topic. The letter which is in possession of the Huntington Library “Lamon collection” describes Pinkerton’s involvement.

The detective supported the contention that he offered to sneak Lincoln through the city but Mrs. Lincoln instead “insisted that Mr. Lamon should accompany him.”

Newspapers around the county published cartons depicting Mr. Lincoln supposedly “wearing a shawl and sneaking through the town dressed like a woman.” Lincoln was embarrassed by the press coverage.

Pinkerton told a different story, telling Lamon in the letter saying that “Mr. Lincoln during the whole trip manifested great coolness and calmness, far beyond what would naturally have been expected.” However, Pinkerton goes on to say “Mr. Lincoln was in no way disguised.”

Pinkerton should have known. Pinkerton was there.

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