The Late Nineteenth Century Essay

Submitted By AndreGray62
Words: 347
Pages: 2

In the late nineteenth century, private detective James McParland attracted fame and controversy. Gifted and ambitious, McParland rose quickly through the ranks of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, then the premier agency of its kind. In the 1870s, he infiltrated, spied upon, and ultimately helped to convict Irish-American miners in Pennsylvania. The execution of twenty men implicated in terrorism by McParland led to both his praise and vilification. Leaders of industry saw him as a hero; trade leaders saw him as management's weapon against unions. His story casts light upon the methods and political uses of for-hire detectives during the infancy of U.S. policing.
In 1876 and 1877 McParland was the star witness for the prosecution of John Kehoe and the Molly Maguires. Twenty members were found guilty of murder and were executed. This included Kehoe, a former union leader who was convicted of a murder that had taken place fourteen years previously.
There was a great deal of controversy about about the way the trial was conducted. Irish Catholics were excluded from the juries while Protestant immigrants from Germany who could not speak English were accepted. Welsh immigrants, who had for a long-time been in conflict with the Irish in Schuylkill County.
Most of the witnesses who provided evidence in these cases were like McParland on the payroll of the railroad and mining companies who were attempting to destroy the trade union movement. In other cases, defendants were…