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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019

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Birth: February 25, 1746
Death: August 16, 1825 (age 79)
Colony: South Carolina
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician, Diplomat
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 41); and served as United States Minister to France (1796-1797)

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was born in South Carolina to a very prominent family of wealthy plantation owners. His brother Thomas Pinckney, was also a Founding Father of the United States. When Pinckney was 7 years old, his father was named Colonial Agent of South Carolina, and his family moved to London. Pinckney was educated in London, and he studied law at Middle Temple.

As an adult, Pinckney returned to South Carolina and began practicing law. As tensions rose between the Colonies and Great Britain, Pinckney became politically involved, and he served in the South Carolina Provincial Congress. Pinckney also joined the South Carolina Militia in 1772. After the Revolutionary War began, he joined the Continental Army where he attained the senior rank of Brigadier General during the Revolutionary War. Pinckney fought in the defense of Charleston, South Carolina, but after the British took the city, he became a prisoner of war for two years.

After the end of the Revolutionary War, Pinckney returned to South Carolina practice law until he named as a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1787. At the Constitutional Convention, Pinckney was a leader of a group of delegates who strongly opposed any provisions which threatened the institution of slavery. Pinckney helped to draft and signed the United States Constitution

After the Constitution was ratified, Pinckney served as Minister to France for a time after being named to the position by George Washington. Pinckney also returned to military service, serving as Major General of the U.S. Army from 1798 through 1800. In 1800, Pinckney was the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Federalists under John Adams and was the Federalist Presidential Candidate in 1804 and 1808, though he lost in each of these three elections. After the 1808 election, Pinckney retired from politics and lived until 1825 when he died at the age of 79.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in Philadelphia

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney lived in Philadelphia while a member of the Constitutional Convention, which met at Independence Hall in 1787. It was during this time that Pinckney signed the United States Constitution. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Pinckney for his role in the creation of the United States Constitution in the Signers' Hall exhibit of the National Constitution Center. Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Pinckney who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Independence Hall and Signers' Garden are stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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