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Charles Pinckney


Charles Pinckney was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in the year 1758. Unaided by a college education, he became by the assistance of private instructors a proficient in the languages of Greece, Rome, and France, and in all acquirements necessary to form a statesman. Ardent and impassioned in the pursuit of literature and distinction, he did not long remain unknown. At the commencement of the Revolution, he took a share in the struggle for independence, and was one of those patriots who underwent seven years calamity to restore liberty and independence to his country.
   At the age of twenty-seven, Mr. Pinckney was elected a member of the State legislature, which place he held until the year 1787, when he was unanimously elected by that body one of the delegates to the federal convention which met at Philadelphia to frame the present constitution. Though youngest in this august body, yet he has been ranked among the most conspicuous in eloquence and efficiency. He advocated an energetic general government. Of the various propositions which he originated, there is one which, though not a part of the constitution, yet the people appear to have adopted in practice. This was, that the president's tenure should be seven years, and afterward ineligible. :By custom he is continued for eight years, but the example of Washington in declining a third election, has established the utmost limit of a president's term.
   Mr. Pinckney's distinguished services were rewarded with the applause of his constituents, and as an evidence of their high opinion, he was advanced to the chief-magistracy of his native State, soon after he had been auxiliary in procuring the adoption of the new constitution by the State convention. In the year 1798 he was elected a member of the Senate of the United States. He was afterward appointed ambassador to the court of Spain, where, besides fulfilling his official duties, he collected a fund of information on the manners, laws, and customs of the old world. Upon his return from Europe, his native State elected him for the fourth time governor.
   The eloquence of Mr. Pinckney was luminous, fervid, and without acrimony; his enunciation was full, ardent, and impressive. Gifted with unusual colloquial powers, urbane in manners, with a temper of great amenity, he always added to the enjoyments of social intercourse. Though visited with his portion of mortal frailty, yet he was a kind master, an indulgent parent, and a devoted patriot. Adversity presented him a chalice often overflowing, yet he abandoned neither hope nor his equanimity; and, after a life of utility and vicissitude, calmly sunk into that sleep where ambition cannot excite, nor the pains of misfortune invade. He died October 29, 1824, at the advanced age of sixty-six years.

Source: Marshall, James V.. The United States Manual of Biography and History. Philadelphia: James B. Smith & Co., 1856. Pages 187 and 188. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


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Last modified January 1, 2004