Pinckney, the name of a family of South Carolina. Thomas Pinckney, its founder, emigrated from Lincolnshire, England, in 1687, and settled at Charleston. He was wealthy, and had three sons, Thomas, Charles, and William, of whom the first named, an ensign in the 17th regiment, royal Americans, died young. Charles, commonly known as Chief Justice Pinckney, was educated in England, practised law in South Carolina, and in 1752 was made chief justice of the province and king's councillor. His wife was the first to attempt the cultivation of rice in the Caroli-nas. Chief Justice Pinckney went to England in 1753 to superintend the education of his children, remaining there five years, and died in Carolina about 1759. His remaining brother, William, born in Charleston in 1703, was master in chancery and commissary general of the province, and died in December, 1766. Of the descendants of Charles and William the following were the most distinguished.
Charles Cotesworth, born in Charleston, Feb. 25, 1746, died there, Aug. 16, 1825. He was the eldest son of the chief justice, and at the age of seven was taken to England to be educated. He graduated at Christ Church college, Oxford, and studied law in the Middle Temple. He subsequently passed nearly a year in the royal military academy at Caen, France, and in 1769 returned to Charleston and commenced practice as a barrister. Almost immediately he became a participator in the preliminary conflicts of the revolution. He was a member of the first provincial congress of South Carolina, and in 1775 was elected colonel of one of the two regiments'raised by the province. He served at the capture of Fort Johnson in Charleston harbor, and participated in the movements resulting in the defeat of the British fleet before Fort Moultrie. The war languishing in the south after this, he joined the American forces at the north as a volunteer, and as aide-de-camp to Gen. Washington was present at Brandywine and Germantown. He returned in the spring of 1778 to Carolina, and participated in the unsuccessful expedition to Florida. In January, 1779, he presided over the senate of South Carolina; soon after aided Moultrie in protecting Charleston against a greatly superior force of British regulars under Gen. Prevost; and in October, 1779, fought with great intrepidity in the disastrous assault upon Savannah. At the commencement of the siege of Charleston he held command of Fort Moultrie, which inflicted severe injury upon the British fleet.
After the surrender of the city, which to the last he had opposed, he remained a prisoner, though part of the time on parole, until he was exchanged in February, 1782. After the evacuation of Charleston, Dec. 14, 1782, he returned there and resumed his practice at the bar. In 1787 he was a member of the convention which framed the constitution of the United States, and subsequently of that of South Carolina which ratified it; and again of the convention which in 1790 adopted the constitution of the state. In 1796 he was appointed minister to France. The directory treated him with marked disrespect, and finally ordered him to leave the country. He returned subsequently with Marshall and Gerry as associates, but negotiations went on slowly, and the American commissioners were at length given to understand that nothing would be accomplished until the government had received a present in money. Talleyrand submitted this proposition to them, intimating that the penalty of refusal would be war. " War be it, then! " replied Pinckney. " Millions for defence, sir, but not a cent for tribute!" On returning to the United States he was appointed a major general in the army in anticipation of war with France. In 1800 he was an unsuccessful candidate for president, receiving with John Adams the votes of the federal party.
Thomas, brother of the preceding, born in Charleston, Oct. 23, 1750, died there, Nov. 2, 1828. He was educated in England, first at Westminster school, and afterward at Oxford, studied law in the Middle Temple, was admitted a barrister, and returned to South Carolina in 1770 after an absence of 17 years. In 1775 he entered one of the provincial regiments as lieutenant, became a major, and was aide-de-camp to Gen. Lincoln. He fought with distinction at the battle of Stono; and at the assault on Savannah he headed one of the assailing columns of the continental army. After the fall of Charleston he joined the army of Gates, and at the battle of Camden was desperately wounded, captured, and sent to Philadelphia, where he remained until the peace. In 1789 he was elected governor of South Carolina, and in 1792 received the appointment of minister to Great Britain, whence in 1794 he was transferred in the same capacity to Spain, where he negotiated the treaty of Ildef onso, by which the United States secured the free navigation of the Mississippi. He returned home in 1796, and was elected by the federalists to congress from the Charleston district in 1797, and again in 1799. In 1812 he became major general of the southern military division of the country, the duties of which involved the prosecution of war with the Creek and Seminole Indians. His last active field service was at the battle of Horse-shoe Bend, where the military power of the Creeks was finally broken.
Chartes, grandson of William, born in Charleston in 1758, died there, Oct. 29, 1824. He was educated for the bar, and when scarcely of age was chosen to the provincial legislature. At the capture of Charleston he became a prisoner, and remained such until near the close of the war, when he resumed his profession. In 1785 he was elected a delegate to congress from South Carolina, and he subsequently took an important part in the preparation of a plan of government for the United States. He was a member of the convention which framed the federal constitution, and in 1788 advocated its ratification in the South Carolina convention. In 1789 he was elected governor of the state. In 1790 he presided over the state convention by which the constitution of South Carolina was adopted. In 1791 and again in 1796 he was elected governor, and in 1798 United States senator. He was a frequent and able speaker on the republican side of that body, and was. one of the most active promoters of Jefferson's election to the presidency in 1800. In 1802 he was appointed minister to Spain, and during his residence in that country negotiated a release from the Spanish government of all right or title to the territory purchased by the United States from France. In 1806 he was for the fourth time elected governor of South Carolina. In 1819-21 he earnestly opposed the Missouri compromise bill in congress.