She Was America’s First Woman Detective, And She Helped Save President Lincoln From Being Assassinated On A Train

ID 67946718 - © Miroslav Liska - - illustrative purposes only

If you love true crime stories and intense documentaries that have interviews with great detectives, then you should know the story of Kate Warne, America’s first woman detective!

Kate was born in upstate New York in 1833. There isn’t a ton of information on her early years and upbringing, but it’s known that as a child, she had to take on a lot of household duties. She married young and was a widow by the time she was 23 years old.

No one knows exactly what inspired Kate to pursue detective work, but in 1856, not long after her husband’s passing, she walked into the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was a group that originated around 1850 and provided private detectives and security guards.

Kate spoke to the agency’s founder, Allan Pinkerton, and told him that she saw his job advertisement for detectives in the newspaper and wanted to join the agency as one. While it was almost unfathomable to hire a woman to be a detective at the time, Kate was very convincing and made the excellent point that having an undercover woman detective would be vital to Allan’s agency.

As a woman, Kate could blend into the background much more unsuspectingly and connect with the wives and women involved with criminals. Allan decided to hire Kate, making her the first female detective in America.

Kate became a vital member of the Pinkerton agency and even helped stop an early assassination attempt against Abraham Lincoln.

One of Kate’s earliest assignments was to travel to Montgomery, Alabama, where she befriended the wife of a robbery suspect who stole $50,000 from Adams Express Co. While there, she was able to identify the prime suspect, get a confession, and retrieve most of the money he had stolen.

During this time, Kate had learned to disguise herself as an unsuspecting Southern woman and became well acquainted with those who did not support the new President-elect, Abraham Lincoln. Just before his inauguration in 1861, Abraham had plans to take a train ride from Illinois to Washington, D.C.

Because he had no assigned security, Abraham hired Allan Pinkerton and his detectives to take care of him on his journey. Allan knew Abraham would be switching trains in Baltimore, Maryland, the only city on his trip that supported slavery, so he sent Kate there to scope things out and make sure the president would be safe.

ID 67946718 – © Miroslav Liska – – illustrative purposes only

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