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Charles Pinckney
South Carolina

Gov. Charles Pinckney

  • January 26, 1789 - December 5, 1792
    December 8, 1796 - December 18, 1798
    December 9, 1806 - December 10, 1808
  • Democratic-Republican
  • October 26, 1757
  • October 29, 1824
  • South Carolina
  • Married Mary Eleanor Laurens; three children
  • Representative, Senator, Ambassador
  • Army


CHARLES PINCKNEY was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was privately tutored and studied law with his father. Serving with the Charleston Regiment of Militia during the Revolutionary War, he was captured by the British and held prisoner from 1780 to 1781. He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives numerous times between 1779 and 1814, served in the U.S. Continental Congress from 1784 to 1787, and was a member of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, the South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1788 by which the federal Constitution was ratified, and the South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1790, which adopted a new Constitution for the state. Running as a Democratic-Republican, Pinckney was elected President of South Carolina by the state legislature’s secret vote on January 21, 1789 as well as in June, 1790 when a new South Carolina Constitution was adopted, changing the title of the state’s chief executive from President to Governor. Under the state constitution at that time, the governor was largely a ceremonial position, filled by the legislature, having no veto power, and restricted to two-year terms after which the chief executive was ineligible for reelection for another four years. However, exempt from the reelection statute, Pinckney was reelected by the legislature in 1791. During his second term, the landed aristrocracy secured legislation forbidding the importation of slaves into South Carolina from other states. Although required to leave office in 1792, Pinckney was reelected by the legislature for a third term four years later. During that term, divisions occurred between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Though a member of the aristrocracy, Pinckney supported Thomas Jefferson, provoking antipathy from other landed gentry. Leaving office again in 1798 as required by the South Carolina Constitution, he served in the U.S. Senate from 1798 until 1801. He was then U.S. Minister to Spain from 1801 to 1805, during which time he negotiated the treaty under which Spain relinquished all claim to Louisiana, which France had transferred to the United States. During his final term as governor, which began in 1806, the legislature was reapportioned. Pinckney went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1819 to 1821.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.

Recent South Carolina Governors