1883‘s own Thomas, LaMonica Garrett, put some serious research into his role as a Pinkerton agent alongside Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan. Garrett recently broke it all down in this 1883 roundtable interview.
What is a Pinkerton agent? Folks are surely googling the historical agency like crazy as 1883 continues to make waves after its two phenomenal premiere episodes. And the answer to that question is as fascinating as they come.
“Pinkertons were one of the first agencies to hire black people,” LaMonica Garrett begins while chatting with Outsider. “And they were one of the first agencies to hire women! These were big deals back then!”
At their heart, “They were the original Secret Service,” Garrett explains. “They protected Abraham Lincoln – not when John Wilkes Booth was there – but before, there was another attempt on his life. And they were there! Through this, Abraham Lincoln is vouching for them as this ‘big agency.'”
“And they were! They were bigger than the military back then,” he adds of 19th century America. “And this was because of Abraham Lincoln vouching for them, so they were huge back then. Pinkerton agents have such a rich history all throughout this country.”
The Remarkable History of America’s Pinkerton National Detective Agency
According to Britannica‘s definition, agents like Garrett’s Thomas and Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan were part of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, an American independent police force. The agency was founded in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton.
Pinkerton would die in 1884, a year after the events of 1883. But in real life, he was the deputy sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, before founding the agency.
Originally, Pinkertons specialized in railway theft cases, protecting trains and apprehending train robbers. The agency wound up at the heart of some of the 19th century’s biggest scandals as a result. They would solve the $700,000 Adams Express Co. theft in 1866. Then, they’d thwart the assassination attempt on President Lincoln, which Garrett mentions above, in 1861.
Afterward, the Pinkerton Agency was instrumental in breaking up the infamous secret coal mining organization: the Molly Maguires.
But the Pinkertons are not history. In fact, they still exist today and would continue much of their same activities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
‘1883’s LaMonica Garrett on Thomas & Shea’s Life Before the Pinkerton Agency
In the same interview, Garrett delves further into his character’s fascinating history with Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan and what led them to this agency.
“They served together in the Civil War,” Garrett reveals of his Thomas and Elliott’s Shea. “Shea was a captain and Thomas was a Buffalo Soldier. And when the war was over, the requirement for Buffalo Soldiers turned into something different than what they originally signed up for,” he continues.
As a result, Thomas and Shea decide to break rank and leave. “They go their own way and they become Pinkerton agents,” Garrett adds.
After all they’ve been through, the 1883 star says “Shea and Thomas can sit at a campfire for hours and not say a word, but they’re saying everything. They just know each other. They’re brothers, they’re best friends.”
When the duo first started working together in Taylor Sheridan’s “cowboy camp,” Garrett says Elliott was quick to embrace him, too. “We hit it off right away. So any nerves I had – because I’m about to be opposite Sam Elliott for a season – they all just drained right out.”
And it shows. These two make for one of television’s best duos, and we can’t wait to see how everything unfolds for Thomas and Shea as 1883 continues.