Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, South Carolina

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, South Carolina

South Carolina has produced patriots who have shown dedication to United States' political, legal and economic revolution, amongst them being Charles Cotesworth. Also known as C.C Pinckney, Charles lived between February 25, 1746 and August 16, 1825. History depicts him as a revolutionary war participant and South Carolina's representative in the U.S. Constitutional Convention as well as a two time presidential candidate for the Federalist Party.

Charles was son to Charles Pinckney, an aristocratic Charleston, South Carolina planter who at some point served as Chief Justice of South Carolina. Pinckney’s mother Eliza Lucas held a special position as an agriculturist, while his elder brother Thomas Pinckney became the Governor of South Carolina in addition to holding a position in George Washington's regime as an administration diplomat. Charles followed in his brother's footsteps when he later served as an administration diplomat in Thomas Jefferson's White House and as South Carolina's Governor.


Charles and his brother Thomas attended Westminster School in England where their father served as a lobbyist in favor of his states' economic and political interests in 1753. Both brothers proceeded to Oxford University where Charles graduated with degrees in law and science. C.C Pinckney practiced law in Charleston upon his return from Europe and began his political career in 1770 following his election to the colonial legislature. He served as the regional attorney general in 1773 but when war broke out between Americans and Britons in 1775, he sided with his country's patriots and this led to the political emancipation of South Carolina.

In 1773, C.C Pinckney married Henry Middleton's daughter Sarah Middleton. Sarah passed away in 1784 and Pinckney remarried Mary Stead two years later.

Charles volunteered as a full-time army officer in George Washington's Continental Army in 1775. He held the position of senior company commander as a captain and successfully led the battle of Sullivan's Island in June 1776. He led his troops to the Northern Mid-Atlantic States after the victory to join forces with General Washington's Army during which he met Alexander Hamilton and James McHenry. C.C Pinckney became a war prisoner in 1780 when the British invaded Charlestown. He was to be released two years later and he joined the continental Army as a brevet Brigadier General.

He later played a significant role in passing South Carolina's constitution in 1788 and announced his retirement from active politics in 1790. George Washington offered him several positions of which he declined. However, in 1796 he accepted to take up the role of U.S Minister to France. This was at the heart of the French Revolution. France was at logger heads with America owing to seizing of American cargo ships headed for Britain.

The French declined C.C Pinckney's appointment. Three French agents asked for a bribe to accept Charles's credentials but he declined saying "No! No! Not a sixpence." The matter led to his resignation and was later referred to as the XYZ affair.

Running for a second term in office, John Adams choose Pinckney as his running mate but was defeated by Democrat-Republicans' Thomas Jefferson. The Federalist Party chose Pinckney in 1804 to run against Jefferson but was again defeated owing to Jefferson's popularity following the acquisition of Louisiana. He ran again in 1808 against Madison and lost by the popular vote.

C.C Pinckney was the president of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1805 till his death in 1825. Buried in St. Michael's Churchyard in Charleston, South Carolina, Charles's tombstone attributes his efforts in the establishment of United States, his friendship with George Washington and unwavering confidence in war or peace.

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