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Charles Pinckney

Charles PinckneyBorn: 26-Oct-1757
Birthplace: Charleston, SC
Died: 29-Oct-1824
Location of death: Charleston, SC
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, St. Philip's Churchyard, Charleston, SC

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician
Party Affiliation: Democrat-Republican [1]

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Author of much of the US Constitution

The American statesman Charles Pinckney was born on the 26th of October 1757 at Charleston, South Carolina; he was the son of Charles Pinckney (1731-1784), first president of the first South Carolina Provincial Congress (January to June 1775), and a cousin of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney. He was studying law at the outbreak of the War of Independence, served in the early campaigns in the South, and in 1779 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He was captured by the British at the fall of Charleston (1780), and remained a prisoner until the close of hostilities. He was elected a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation in 1784, 1785 and 1786, and in 1786 he moved the appointment of a committee "to take into consideration the affairs of the nation", advocating in this connection an enlargement of the powers of Congress. The committee having been appointed, Pinckney was made chairman of a sub-committee which prepared a plan for amending the Articles of Confederation. In 1787 he was a delegate to the Federal constitutional convention, and on the same day (May 29) on which Edmund Randolph presented what is known as the Virginia plan, Pinckney presented a draft of a constitution which is known as the Pinckney plan. Although the Randolph resolutions were made the basis on which the new constitution was framed, Pinckney's plan seems to have been much drawn upon. Furthermore, Pinckney appears to have made valuable suggestions regarding phrasing and matters of detail. On the 18th of August he introduced a series of resolutions, and to him should probably be accredited the authorship of the substance of some thirty-one or thirty-two provisions of the constitution. Pinckney was president of the State Convention of 1790 that framed a new constitution for South Carolina, was Governor of the state from 1789 to 1792, a member of the state House of Representatives in 1792-1796, and again Governor from 1796 to 1798. From 1799 to 1801 he was a member of the United States Senate. He entered public life as a Federalist, but later became the leader in organizing the Democratic-Republican party in his state, and contributed largely to the success of Thomas Jefferson in the Presidential election of 1800. By Jefferson's appointment he was American minister to Spain from 1801 to 1805. In general his mission was a distinct failure, his arrogance and indiscretions finally causing the Spanish government to request his recall. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1805, was again Governor of South Carolina from 1806 to 1808, in 1810-1814 was once more a member of the state House of Representatives, in which he defended President James Madison's war policy, and from 1819 to 1821 was a member of the National House of Representatives, in which he opposed the Missouri Compromise in a brilliant speech. He died at Charleston, South Carolina, on the 29th of October 1824.

The "Pinckney Plan" has been the subject of considerable discussion. When, in 1818, John Quincy Adams was preparing the journal of the convention for publication and discovered that the Pinckncy plan was missing, he wrote to Pinckney for a copy, and Pinckney sent him what he asserted was either a copy of his original draft or a copy of a draft which differed from the original in no essentials. But as this was found to bear a close resemblance to the draft reported by the committee of detail, Madison and others, who had been members of the convention, as well as historians, treated it as spurious, and for years Pinckney received little credit for his work in the convention. Later historians, however, notably J. Franklin Jameson and Andrew C. McLaughlin, have accredited to him the suggestion of a number of provisions of the constitution as a result of their efforts to reconstruct his original plan chiefly from his speeches, or alleged speeches, and from certain papers of James Wilson, a member of the committee of detail, one of which papers is believed to be an outline of the Pinckney plan. See J. F. Jameson, "Studies in the History of the Federal Convention of 1787", in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1902, vol. i.; A. C. McLaughlin, "Outline of Pinckney's Plan for a Constitution", in The Nation, April 28, 1904; an article entitled "Sketch of Pinckney's Plan for a Constitution", in the American Historical Review for July 1904; and C. C. Nott, The Mystery of the Pinckney Draught (New York, 1908), an attempt by a former Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Claims to prove that the document sent by Pinckney to Adams in 1818 is a genuine copy of his original plan.

His son, Henry Laurens Pinckney (1794-1863), was a member of the state House of Representatives in 1816-1832, founded in 1819 and edited for fifteen years the Charleston Mercury, the great exponent of state's rights principles, and was a member of the National House of Representatives in 1833-1837.


[1] Federalist, later Democrat-Republican.

Father: Charles Pinckney
Mother: Frances Brewton
Wife: Mary Eleanor Laurens (m. 27-Apr-1788, one son)
Son: Henry Laurens Pinckney (b. 24-Sep-1794, d. 3-Feb-1863)

    US Congressman, South Carolina (4-Mar-1819 to 3-Mar-1821)
    South Carolina State House of Representatives (1810-14)
    Governor of South Carolina (1806-08)
    South Carolina State House of Representatives (1805-06)
    US Ambassador to Spain (1801-05)
    US Senator, South Carolina (6-Dec-1798 to 1801, resigned)
    Governor of South Carolina 1796-98
    South Carolina State House of Representatives (1792-96)
    Governor of South Carolina 1789-92
    Signatory to the US Constitution 1789
    South Carolina State House of Representatives (1786-89)
    Delegate to the Continental Congress (1785-87)
    South Carolina State House of Representatives (1779-80
    Society of the Cincinnati
    South Carolina Hall of Fame 1976
    Slaveowners


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