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 Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

US Signer of Constitution, Brigadier General. Born into a South Carolina aristocratic family with strong Loyalist ties he forsook those allegiances and risked lost much of his wealth to side with the American colonists that were seeking independence from Britain. Although educated in England, he returned to South Carolina as a young adult where his success as a lawyer and planter led to him being elected to the legislature. After the war began in 1775 he held a seat in the provincial Congress where he led the way in developing a strong militia for his native South Carolina. His zeal for freedom though led him to become a full time soldier in the Continental Army. He acquired the rank of Colonel and saw action at the defense of Charleston before heading north to participate in battles at Brandywine and Germantown. In 1778 he returned to the south to help thwart the advances of the British forces and Loyalists left to occupy captured territories. He led a brigade on brave but unsuccessful military operations in Savannah Georgia (1779) and Charleston, South Carolina (1780). In Charleston he was captured as a prisoner of war. Two years later he was set free and was brevetted to brigadier general because of his faithful service to America's fight for independence. After the war he returned to his state's legislature. Afraid of the threat of another invasion, Pinckney became an early vocal crusader for a strong national government. In 1787 South Carolina sent him to Philadelphia as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. There he continued his campaign for a central government but also was a leader in the fight for a strong system of checks and balances to protect the new nation from the threat of tyranny. He returned to South Carolina to seek ratification for the nation's new constitution before attempting to retire from politics. However, in 1796 he agreed to return to public service when asked to be the American ambassador to France. His trip to France sparked an international incident (known as the XYZ Affair) when the French government refused to accept his credentials and leaders of the French Revolution attempted to bribe him before agreeing to open up negotiations about French interference with US ships. Pinckney was abhorred by the bribe offer and in protest broke off all discussions and returned home where he was placed in charge of the southern half of the Provisional Army in preparation for war with France. However, in 1800, a peaceful solution was reached and with his military career again ended, he returned to South Carolina hoping to once again retire. His popularity, though, would not allow him to leave the public scene quietly. He served two terms in the state senate and ran unsuccessfully as a Federalist for Vice –President in 1800 and for President in the elections of 1804 and 1808. After his last presidential run he once again retired returning to Charleston to live out his days with the respect and admiration of his state and country for his sacrifice and service.

Bio by: Bigwoo


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1746-1825 CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY —To the memory of General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, one of the founders, of the American Republic. In war, he was the companion in arms and the friend of Washington. In peace, he enjoyed his unchanging confidence and maintained, with enlightened zeal, the principles of his administration and of the Constitution. As a statesman, he bequeathed to his country the sentiment, " millions for defense, not a cent for tribute." As a lawyer, his learning was various and profound, his principles pure, his practice liberal. With all the accomplishments of the gentleman, he combined the virtues of the patriot and the piety of the Christian. His name is recorded in the history of his country, inscribed on the charter of her liberties, and cherished in the affections of her citizens. Obeit, XVI August, MDCCCXXV. AEtatis, LXXIX.


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 816
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (25 Feb 1746–16 Aug 1825), Find A Grave Memorial no. 816, citing Saint Michaels Church Cemetery, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .