The American Revolution in South Carolina

Colonel Charles Cotesworth Pinckney


Biography from Benson J. Lossing in his Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution [with minor edits]:

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was born in Charlestown on February 25, 1746. At the age of seven years, he was taken to England with his brother, Thomas, by their father (Chief Justice Pinckney), where he was educated, and also studied law. In 1769, he returned to Charlestown after visiting the Continent. In England, he took part against the Stamp Act with its opposers there, and, on reaching his native country, he eagerly espoused the cause of the Patriots. He commenced the practice of law in 1770, and soon became eminent.

When a regiment was formed in Charlestown in 1775, of which Gadsden was colonel, Pinckney was appointed a captain, and was at New Bern for a while on recruiting service. He was active in the defense of Charlestown in 1776. In 1778, he accompanied Major General Robert Howe in his expedition to Florida. He assisted in the repulse of Brigadier General Augustine Prevost in 1779 and in the defense of Charlestown in 1780.

When the city fell, he became a prisoner and suffered much from sickness and cruel treatment. He was exchanged in February of 1782 when the war was almost ended. He was soon afterward raised to the brevet rank of brigadier.

On the return of peace, he resumed the practice of his profession. He was a member of the convention which formed the Constitution of the United States. President George Washington offered him a seat in his cabinet, which he declined, and in 1796 he accepted the appointment of minister to the French Republic. There he had the delicate duty to perform and while in the midst of personal peril in the French capital, he uttered the noble sentiment, "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute."

In 1797, Mr. Pinckney was appointed the second Major General in the army under President Washington, and for many years he was an active politician. For almost twenty-five years he lived in elegant retirement, in the enjoyment of books and pleasures of domestic happiness. He died on August 16, 1825, in his eightieth year.

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