Note: As always, if you missed 10 through 7 or the Runner-Up list, check back now before we get to “Final 5.”
Specific Note: Yes, it’s true that Allan Pinkerton is the only immigrant in the top 10, technically being born in Scotland before coming to America as a relatively young man. That’s part of the reason I had him share this ranking with Aldrich, but his legacy was just too good (i.e. bad) to fully snub or relegate to the runner-up list.
What happens when people that aren’t born rich became so enamored with rich people and their place in the class wars, that they become more effective at hurting poor people than even their puppet masters? That’s what Nelson W. Aldrich and Allan Pinkerton can show us in different ways.
Nelson W. Aldrich…Although born to a middle-class family of English immigrants, Aldrich became such an accomplished bootlicker of the rich and famous he would eventually marry into the Rockefeller family, creating an influential corporate-political dynasty. Some of Aldrich’s notable “accomplishments” include…
3. Representing the interest of the rich only in Congress during Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency, when it was becoming unfashionable.
2. Opposing any reforms to take on monopolies like Standard Oil, and becoming John D. Rockefeller’s main puppet in congress.
1. Calling an income tax system “communist” and working to sabotage the progressive income tax structure we enjoy today.
Asshole Adjacent: Ted Cruz, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, the Chamber of Commerce, let’s just say almost any Republican alive today since they routinely put Big Business over the lives of people, and guess which party Aldrich was in? I know–shocker–Republican, can you believe it?
Allan Pinkerton…The founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which was one of the most effective crushers of the working class soul. He was frequently hired to hurt or crush any and all threats to Big Business, from Jesse James to union strikes. Some of his low-lights include…
3. A raid on Jesse James family that didn’t kill Jesse James, but did kill his pre-teen brother and aging mother. An early precursor of modern-day law enforcement out of control.
2. In 1872, the Spanish government hired Pinkerton to suppress a revolution in Cuba that intended to end slavery and give citizens the right to vote. Although Pinkerton the hypocrite claimed to be an abolitionist that hated slavery, it seemed to depend on who was paying him. Of course, he also claimed to be pro-union, despite…
1. Being the single biggest threat to labor unions. Pinkerton was aggressively against labor unions and was frequently hired to spy on them or break up a strike through any means necessary. Although he died before much of his agency’s biggest scandals, there’s no doubt he sympathized with his agency taking notorious cases like The Pullman Strike, The Ludlow Massacre, and The Homestead Strike which led to an Anti-Pinkerton Act that banned the federal government from hiring Pinkertons. If a labor union had done to the Pinkertons what they did to union organizers or strikers, they undoubtedly would’ve been called terrorists.
Bonus Assholery: By creating a privatized FBI, Pinkerton agents were used in most cities before they created real police departments, so you could also credit him for being the ideological ancestor of the “Let’s privatize everything!” movement.
Asshole Adjacent: Ted Cruz, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Trump’s cabinet including Betsy DeVos, the Chamber of Commerce, pretty much any Republican alive since they believe in privatizing anything the government does. Hey, it’s almost like Aldrich and Pinkerton gave rise to two of the Republican Party’s most nefarious beliefs: privatization and corporate interests above public well-being. Oh wait, that’s why I chose them.