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1850 to 1899


1837-1900: There were seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria. They were all unsuccessful.

1849-1902: 210 vigilante movements in the American West

1850-1900: The golden era of the con game in the U.S.

1850-1900: U.S. cities were still unsafe. European cities were bringing crime under control.

1850-1860: Los Angeles suffered from a high homicide rate

1850: American cities were expanding at an exceedingly rapid rate

1850: China – Millions were addicted to opium

1851: San Francisco’s first vigilance committee established

1857: There were 80,000 prostitutes in London

1859: An arsonist burned down a famous NYC museum

1860-1907: Adam Worth, England’s greatest thief, was active

1860: The dime novel was created. It made heroes out of the outlaws of the American West
------ Gangs called tongs controlled San Francisco’s underworld
------ Constance Kent Case – England – Murder
------ It was estimated that half the paper money in the U.S. was counterfeit

1861: Allan Pinkerton frustrated a plot on President Lincoln’s life

1864: Ma Mandlebaum was the biggest fence in NYC

1865: President Lincoln assassinated
------ First major bank robbery in the U.S. at Concord, MA

1866: There were 615 houses of prostitution in NYC

1867: Allan Pinkerton broke a wiretapping swindle involving the Stock Exchange

1868: Pinkerton detectives arrested the Reno brothers (train robbers)

1869-1878: Wave of major bank burglaries in the U.S.

1870: The Prime Minister of Spain was assassinated

1872-1878: Sicily – Mafia vendettas wiped out towns

1873: Jesse James gang robbed a train by first wrecking it

1874: Charley Ross Kidnapping Case – First U.S. kidnapping for ransom

1875-1880: First serious crime was in the U.S.

1876: James and Younger gangs wiped out by townspeople in Northfield, Minnesota

1877: Crime in the U.S. had shifted from the frontier to the city
------ Pinkerton men arrested men attempting to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body
------ Pinkerton troops broke up the Mollie Maquires gang

1880-1905: 551 persons in England and Wales were convicted of murder

1881: President James A. Garfield was assassinated

1882: Jesse James was shot by one of his own gang members for the reward
------ Jack-the-Ripper Case – England – Murder

1889: Maybrick Case – England – Murder

1890: Hennessy Case – U.S. – Murder
------ Bill Doolin gang active in Oklahoma territory

1892: Dalton gang wiped out in Coffeyville, Kansas
------ Johnson County Range War in Wyoming
------ Homestead, PA labor violence involving Pinkerton guards and union members
------ Lizzie Borden Case – U.S. – Murder

1894: President Carnot of France assassinated

1896: America’s first mass murderer was hanged

1898: Heroin was introduced to the world by the Bayor Company of Germany

Forensic Science

1856: German pathologist Johann L. Casper published Practical Manual of Forensic Medicine

1858: William Herschel took palm prints of natives in India for non-criminal ID purposes

1859: Photography was first used as evidence in a California case

1863: German scientist Schonbein found a way to generally ID bloodstains

1869: German Emil Pfaff wrote the first treatise on the forensic aspects of hair

1874: Dr. Theodor Billroth guessed that all human blood is not the same

1875: The Sylvia Howland will case at New Bedford, MA was the first major U.S. questioned documents case
------ French pathologist Ambroise wrote of death by suffocation and bullet wounds
------ Italian physiologist Mosso studied scientific lie detection

1875-1900: In England, Forensic Medicine was not used in crime detection. In Europe it was fully recognized

1876: French scientist Albert Florence developed a way to detect semen traces
------ Italian Cesare Lombroso wrote, The Criminal Man

1877: Elective coroners were abolished in Boston
------ Joseph T. Lewis Case – U.S. – Questioned Documents
------ Thomas Edison invented a voiceprint machine, its potential in crime detection was unknown

1878: Fire victims in a Vienna Opera House were identified by their teeth
------ Massachusetts became the first state to abolish the office of coroner

1879: The Affray at Brownsville, Texas firearms identification case
------ Englishman Francis Galton studied word association tests as a method of lie detection

1880: Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne was appointed the head of the Lyons Institute of Forensic Medicine in France
------ Englishman Henry Faulds wrote on the subject of fingerprints. He was the first to consider fingerprints as a method of crime detection.

1881: Alphonse Bertillon established his Bureau of Judicial Identification, making it the first organized effort to take and preserve photographs of criminals.

1882: German pathologist Edward von Hofman determined how to tell is a person was alive at the time of a fire or burned after death.

1883: Frenchman Alphonse Bertillon, the father of scientific crime detection, made his first anthropometric criminal identification

1889: Eyraud and Bompard Case – France – forensic medicine

1891: Carlyle Harris Case – U.S. – Toxicology
------ In Argentina, Juan Vucetich developed his own method of fingerprint classification

1892: Sir Francis Galton, English biologist, wrote the first book on the classification of fingerprints

1893: Austrian lawyer and judge Hans Gross, the co-father or scientific crime detection, published his famous text on criminal investigation

1894: Dryfus Case – France – Treason/questioned documents

1895: German physicist William Roetgen discovered X-ray photography
------ U.S. court denied a hypnotist’s testimony in a criminal case

1896: Argentina was the first country to base its identification system on fingerprints
------ Adolf Beck Case – England – fingerprints

1898: Molyneux Case – U.S. – questioned documents
------ German scientist Paul Jeserich began comparing bullets in his crime laboratory

Law Enforcement

1837-1900: England – Police used no scientific crime detection methods

1850-1860: Police brutality in U.S. at a high point

1850: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department founded

1852: New Orleans and Cincinnati started preventative police forces run by chiefs of police

1855: Boston’s paid watch turned into the Boston Police Department

1856: New York was first city in U.S. to uniform its police

1860: Chicago Police Department established its first detective squad

1865: U.S. Secret Service was organized
------ Massachusetts formed its state police

1867: Cleveland Police Department began photographing arrestees

1869: Los Angeles established a police department

1870-1895: Era of legendary sheriffs in the American west

1870-1895: Police corruption in large U.S. cities

1872: First police strike in London

1873: North West Mounted police of Canada formed

1882: NYPD established its detective bureau

1884: Allan Pinkerton died. He was the first detective in U.S., pioneered the idea of criminal records, his was the first company to fight crime interstate, and he started the first contract guard service in the U.S.

1886: Thomas Byrnes, Chief of Detectives, NYPD, published Professional Criminals of America

1888: England – Watches were slowly being replace in cities other than London

1889: Philadelphia began its mounted patrol with 93 horses

1891: William J. Burns became a Secret Service Agent

1892-1895: Parkhurst Crusade and the Lexow Hearings were conducted in NYC

1893: An organization later named the International Association of Chiefs of Police formed

1895: Paris police established a dog force in response to the growing problem of street gangs

1898: A police academy was opened in New Zealand

1899: The police department in Ghent, Belgium started the first successful European canine unit

Criminal Law

1866: Fourteenth Amendment added to the U.S. Constitution

1868: England – public executions were prohibited

1874: England – law passed that required the reportage of births and deaths

Crime Prevention and Private Security

1850: Allan Pinkerton started his detective agency in Chicago
------ First manufactured safes were cast iron boxes with weak locking devices

1851: London Lock Exhibition

1853: The first private electric alarm business in U.S. was started in Boston

1855: Allan Pinkerton formed the North West Police Agency to provide protection for 6 midwestern railroad companies

1857: Pinkerton formed the Pinkerton Protection Patrol to provide watchman services, thus starting the first contract uniform guard company in the U.S.

1858: Allan Pinkerton hired the first female detective

1859: The Brinks Company was founded in Chicago

1861: American Linus Yale introduced the pin tumbler lock

1869: The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was the first security company in the U.S. to gross $1 million a year

1872: The first U.S. central station burglar alarm company was started in Brooklyn, NY
------ By this time, William and Robert Pinkerton were taking control of their father’s company

1874: James Sargent invented the first American time lock

1878: Western Union got into the alarm business
------ About this time window foil alarms (and screen alarms) were developed

1880-1890: The American Banker’s Association hired Pinkerton Agency to investigate bank robbery, burglary, and forgery cases

1893: Congress passed the Pinkerton Act

This page was last updated on: Sunday, January 13, 2008

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A. James Fisher
Dept. of Political Science & Criminal Justice, 146 Hendricks Hall
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 16444
e-mail: jfisher@edinboro.edu blog: http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com