Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, (1746-1825) South Carolina signer of the Constitution

If there ever was an American aristocracy, the Pinckney family of South Carolina headlined that social register. Charles Cotesworth’s father made millions growing indigo, a crop introduced to the colony by his mother. His younger brother Thomas served as Governor of South Carolina, U.S. House of Representatives, and member of George Washington’s diplomatic corps. His cousin Charles also served as Governor and as U.S. Senator and a diplomat for Jefferson’s administration. Charles Cotesworth would outshine them all.

Pinckney’s education suggested a successful and prosperous future. He attended Westminster School in England and learned the law at the Middle Temple. He polished off his education with courses in France and a stint at the Royal Military College at Caen. Every aspect of his learning would providentially come into play in his key roles in the early American Republic. He returned home to begin his law practice. To his own financial hurt, Cotesworth identified with the independence movement from the beginning, supporting South Carolina’s secession from Britain, and leading in the new state government as a legislator.