Many scholars of American history have grappled with the rise of the counterrevolutionary, american state. While many point to the adoption of the constitution and the removal of the articles of confederation in 1787 as the first, real push by the counterrevolutionary forces of capital, embodied at the time by Alexander Hamilton and company, the constitutional convention placed such a system of checks on government that little could actually be accomplished to force the idea of a central government forward.
Until the middle of the 19th century, that is.
By 1850, the disagreement and rancor between the agrarian, slave-labor based states of the South, and the rapidly industrializing (and yet many slave-owning), Northern states had reached the point of apartheid. Once the moderate statesman of his day, Henry Clay, died, his 1850 compromise was doomed, as both abolitionist and pro-slavery forces battled for control of every new territory added in the American west. On the eve of the presidential elections of 1860, following the massacres of "bloody Kansas," most people had openly declared that either war or the disintegration of the union was a forgone conclusion.
When highly unpopular Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president, both sides raised an uproar.
Lincoln was so unpopular a choice, that he was smuggled into Washington D.C. disguised as a woman, due to threats on his life from both sides of the bitterly divided body politic.
You might have heard this story before, but if not, let's explain why it's so important to our discussion.
You see, there actually was very little likelihood of an organized plot to assassinate Lincoln at all.
And this rumor that became a "threat" the government had to deal with, became the incubator for the modern, extra-constitutional police state.
The Feds of the day had no such police organs that were "up to the task" of preventing a conspiracy against the new president (as history would show four years later), nor did the small, national government of 1860 possess the intelligence network to gather such information. Intelligence work in the mid 19th century fell to the War Office, and dealt with the rather mundane affairs of military work, while other forms of traditional espionage were the realm of the Embassy, where Ambassadors had informants and "agents" who collected information on our neighbors overseas.
But following the election of 1860, the War Office received a letter warning of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln from a source they could not easily dismiss.
The Pinkerton Detective Agency.
The Pinkertons were a group of professional security and espionage agents who made their living off industrial security and spying. Pinkerton had grown wealthy and powerful protecting the interests of the robber barons in the railroads, shipping, and extraction industries that were booming across the American continent. The Pinkertons were not above murder or extortion to get their way, and it's not known how many were murdered by the agency in the decades prior to and after the Civil War.
Conservative estimates vary, most claim a few hundred to a few thousand.
Pinkerton and his thugs were also not above blackmail or kidnapping, and used both to extort what they wanted from the wealthy and powerful, sometimes "hiring" law enforcement officers or federal marshals when it suited their cause.
In 1860 though, Pinkerton was in danger of being ousted from his rather cozy relationships and also desperately needed some friends who could provide legal protection for his outfit, as word of his crew's murderous tendencies had begun to fill headlines in the news reports.
Much like Blackwater in our own day, Pinkerton did what any cutthroat does when he feels the noose slipping around his own neck, he goes legit.
Whereas Blackwater, or XM, or whatever they're calling themselves today hooked up with elements of the CIA to provide much needed legitimacy and legal protections, the mercenary hoodlums of the gaslight era also wanted to join the government fold.
But in 1860, the Secret Service was little more than a military bodyguard, and there was no CIA.
Pinkerton figured that no good crisis should go to waste.
But first, he had to create the crisis.
And so he did, by creating the threat of a conspiracy to assassinate the president-elect and using his connections and status to get his "report" of this threat to the head of the War Department in D.C.
The Generals bought the sales job, hook, line, and sinker.
Pinkerton was hired as a government contractor to assess and report on the threat to the new president, and charged with the task of using his army of security specialists to bring the new president safely to the White House.
A better scam could not have been created, nor more successful.
Pinkerton used its growing government powers to shield itself and increase both the agencies reach and influence. Eventually Pinkerton employed thousands of employees and received revenues equivalent to tens of millions in modern-day dollars.
Pinkerton couldn't prevent the real conspiracy that assassinated President Lincoln in 1865, but by that time, no one remembered why Pinkerton had been hired in the first place.
This week, as our embassies worldwide are shutdown under threat of "attack" by Al Qaeda, we should note that a fake threat is often a better excuse than a real one.
There's been a string of "accidental" destruction across the United States for months now. Factories, Chemical Plants, Pipelines, and Heavy Industries have been destroyed by explosions and fires, yet the public is expected to believe that all these events are just unfortunate circumstances and nothing more. Despite the facts that more of these events have occurred in the last year than have occurred in the previous seven decades combined.
We are also supposed to forget we have been at war continually now for over a dozen years--yet our "enemy" is not only supposedly still poised to rain havoc on our bases and embassies in a dozen nations--but we, with our advanced, military and intelligence assets literally strangling the world, cannot prevent them nor secure the safety of our people.
Prepare yourselves for what Washington will attempt to justify next.