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Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

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Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

(1746–1825) Born February 25, 1746, in Charleston, South Carolina, son of Elizabeth Lucas (who helped bring indigo cultivation to South Carolina) and Charles Pinckney (chief justice of the province). Brother of Thomas Pinckney (1750–1828) and second cousin of Charles Pinckney (1757–1824). Family moved to England in 1753, when his father was appointed agent of the colony to London. Remained in England after his parents returned to America in 1758 (where his father soon died). Educated at Westminster and Christ Church College, Oxford, attended lectures of William Blackstone, and was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1764. Admitted to the English bar in 1769; practiced briefly before continuing his studies in France. Returned to America in late 1769 and was immediately elected to the colonial assembly. Admitted to the South Carolina bar in early 1770. Married Sarah Middleton, daughter of the second president of the Continental Congress and sister of Arthur Middleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Became acting attorney general for Camden, Georgetown, and the Cheraws in 1773. Served in the provincial congress 1775–76, where he advocated disestablishment of the church and served on various committees and the council of safety. Joined the militia and was appointed ranking major when the South Carolina 1st Regiment was organized. Promoted to colonel by September 1776. Appointed aide to Washington and took part in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in 1777. In 1778 he took part in the campaign in Florida and the unsuccessful siege in Savannah. Taken prisoner after surrender of Charleston in 1780, was exchanged in 1782 and rejoined army; was discharged as brigadier general in 1783. Joined the Society of the Cincinnati (became its third president general in 1805). Elected to the lower house in 1778 and 1782. President of the state senate in 1779. Wife Sarah died in 1784, and he married Mary, daughter of Benjamin Stead. Delegate from South Carolina to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where he opposed religious tests and proposed that Senate have power to ratify treaties. Delegate to South Carolina ratifying convention, where he supported ratification. Declined Washington’s offers to appoint him U.S. Supreme Court justice, secretary of war, and secretary of state. In 1796, he succeeded Monroe as minister to France, but when he arrived he was not formally received and was forced to leave. He was one of the American peace commissioners (with Elbridge Gerry and John Marshall) appointed by Adams in 1797 for mission to France in what became known as the XYZ Affair, and he shared Marshall’s view of the proceedings. In 1798, when war with France threatened, he was commissioned major general under Washington and Hamilton (discharged in June 1800). Unsuccessful Federalist candidate for vice-president in 1800 and unsuccessful Federalist candidate for president in 1804 and 1808. Helped found South Carolina College in 1801 and Charleston Bible Society in 1810. He lived at his plantation, Belmont, and in Charleston. Died in Charleston on August 16, 1825.