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Thomas Pinckney

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Title: Thomas Pinckney  
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Subject: United States presidential election, 1796, John Adams, William Moultrie, Charles Pinckney (governor), Rufus King
Collection: 1750 Births, 1828 Deaths, Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford, Ambassadors of the United States to Great Britain, American Revolutionary War Prisoners of War Held by Great Britain, Continental Army Officers from South Carolina, Federalist Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Federalist Party State Governors of the United States, Governors of South Carolina, Members of the American Antiquarian Society, Members of the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina, People Educated at Westminster School, London, People from Charleston, South Carolina, Pinckney Family, South Carolina Federalists, United States Army Generals, United States Presidential Candidates, 1796
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Thomas Pinckney

Thomas Pinckney
36th Governor of South Carolina
In office
February 20, 1787 – January 26, 1789
Lieutenant Thomas Gadsden
Preceded by William Moultrie
Succeeded by Charles Pinckney
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st district
In office
November 23, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Preceded by William L. Smith
Succeeded by Thomas Lowndes
United States Minister to Great Britain
In office
August 9, 1792 – July 27, 1796
Appointed by George Washington
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by Rufus King
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from St. Philip's and St. Michael's Parish
In office
January 3, 1791 – December 20, 1791
Personal details
Born October 23, 1750 (1750-10-23)
Charleston, South Carolina
Died November 2, 1828(1828-11-02) (aged 78)
Charleston, South Carolina
Political party Federalist
Alma mater Westminster School
Oxford University
Profession Planter
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Continental Army
United States Army
Years of service 1775–1783, 1812–1815
Rank Major (Continental Army)
Major general (US Army)
Unit 1st South Carolina Regiment
Battles/wars Revolutionary War
 • Battle of Camden
War of 1812

Thomas Pinckney (October 23, 1750 – November 2, 1828) was an early American statesman, diplomat and veteran of both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.


  • Early life in the military 1
  • Postbellum and politics 2
  • Death and legacy 3
  • Family 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life in the military

Pinckney was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where his father, Charles Pinckney, was a prominent colonial official. When Pinckney was 3, his father brought the family to Great Britain on colonial business, and after his father's death in 1758, Pinckney continued his education in Great Britain (at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford) and France. He returned to South Carolina in 1774 and became an ardent Patriot in the American Revolution. In 1775 he was commissioned as captain in the 1st South Carolina Regiment of the Continental Army. After seeing much action, he became an aide-de-camp to General Horatio Gates, and was captured by the British at the disastrous Battle of Camden in 1780. After recovering from his wounds, he was released in a prisoner exchange. In 1781 he fought under Lafayette in Virginia.

Postbellum and politics

After the war, Pinckney spent some years running his plantations before he returned to politics. Pinckney was the Great Britain in 1792. While there, he was unable to get British concessions on issues such as impressment or the Northwest frontier forts, so that Washington sent John Jay as a special envoy to negotiate the controversial Jay Treaty. For part of his tenure (1794–1795) as ambassador in Britain, Pinckney also served as Envoy Extraordinary to Spain. He arranged the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also known as Pinckney's Treaty, with Spain in 1795.

Upon his return to the United States, he joined with his mother-in-law, Rebecca Motte in building a plantation known as Eldorado. Pinckney's diplomatic success with Spain made him popular at home, and on his return the Federalist party made him a candidate in the 1796 presidential election (as the intended running-mate of John Adams). While Adams won the presidential election, complicated scheming to ensure that Pinckney would not have more presidential votes than Adams ended up making their opponent Thomas Jefferson vice-president and Pinckney finish in third place in the presidential race. (At the time, there were no distinct electoral votes for President and Vice-President.)

Pinckney was elected to the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William L. Smith, and he served from November 1797 to March 1801. While in Congress, Pinckney served as one of the managers appointed by the House in 1798 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against William Blount.

Pinckney served as a major general in the United States Army during the War of 1812. In 1814, he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[1] His last public role before his death in Charleston was as president general of the Society of the Cincinnati (1825–1828).

Death and legacy

Pinckney died in Charleston, South Carolina and is interred in St. Philip’s Churchyard.

Norcross. Pinckneyville is the name of a Middle School in Norcross.

Pinckney, New York was also named after him.


His father, Charles Pinckney, was Chief Justice of South Carolina and his mother, Eliza Lucas, was prominent for introducing the cultivation of Indigo to the colonies.

His brother Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and his cousin Charles Pinckney were signers of the United States Constitution.

He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Motte and second to her sister, Frances, the widow of John Middleton, a cousin of Middleton-Pinckney House.

His elder son, Thomas, Jr., was married to Elizabeth Izard, a cousin twice removed of South Carolina Congressman Ralph Izard.

His younger son, the younger Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (1789-1865), married Phoebe Elliott, a daughter of a South Carolina State Representative, William Elliott, and Phoebe Waight. He was Lt. Governor of South Carolina between 1832 and 1834.


  1. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  • Purcell, L. Edward. Who Was Who in the American Revolution. New York: Facts on File, 1993. ISBN 0-8160-2107-4. For details on military service.
  • Southwick, Leslie. Presidential Also-Rans and Running Mates, 1788-1996. McFarland & Company, 1998. ISBN 0-7864-0310-1.

External links

  • Congressional biography of Thomas Pinckney
  • SCIway Biography of Thomas Pinckney
  • NGA Biography of Thomas Pinckney
  • NNDB
Political offices
Preceded by
William Moultrie
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Charles Pinckney
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Adams
U.S. Minister to Great Britain
Succeeded by
Rufus King
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Adams(1)
Federalist Party vice presidential candidate
1796 (lost)(1)
Succeeded by
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney(1)
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William L. Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina
Succeeded by
Thomas Lowndes
Notes and references
1. Technically, Adams in 1792, Thomas Pinckney in 1796, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1800 were all presidential candidates. Prior to the passage of the Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1800, with the intention that Adams be elected President and either Pinckney be elected Vice President.
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