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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Charles Cotesworth (C.C.) Pinckney (February 5, 1746- August 16, 1825), was an American statesman born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Charles Pinckney (and second cousin to Governor Charles Pinckney who was also active in politics), by his second wife, the celebrated girl planter, Eliza Lucas. When a child he was sent to England, like his brother Thomas after him, to be educated. Both of them were at Westminster and Oxford and were called to the bar, and for a time they studied in France at the Royal Military College at Caen.

Table of contents
1 South Carolina
2 XYZ Affair
3 Presidential Politics

South Carolina

Returning to America in 1769, C. C. Pinckney began the practice of law at Charleston, and soon became deputy attorney-general of the province. He was a member of the first South Carolina provincial congress in 1775, served as colonel in the South Carolina militia in 1776-1777, was chosen president of the South Carolina Senate in 1779, took part in the Georgia expedition and the attack on Savannah in the same year, was captured at the fall of Charleston in 1780 and was kept in close confinement until 1782, when he was exchanged. In 1783 he was commissioned a brevet brigadier-general in the continental army. He was an influential member of the constitutional convention of 1787, advocating the counting of all slaves as a basis of representation and opposing the abolition of the slave trade. He opposed as impracticable the election of representatives by popular vote, and also opposed the payment of senators, who, he thought, should be men of wealth. Subsequently Pinckney bore a prominent part in securing the ratification of the Federal constitution in the South Carolina convention called for that purpose in 1788 and in framing the South Carolina State Constitution in the convention of 1790.

XYZ Affair

After the organization of the Federal government, President Washington offered him at different times appointments as associate justice of the Supreme Court (1791), Secretary of War (1795) and Secretary of State (1795), each of which he declined; but in 1796 he succeeded James Monroe as minister to France. The Directory refused to receive him, and he retired to Holland, but in the next year, Elbridge Gerry and John Marshall having been. appointed to act with him, he again repaired to Paris, where he is said to have made the famous reply to a veiled demand for a loan (in reality for a gift), "Millions for defence, but not one cent for tribute, another version is, No, not a sixpence." The mission accomplished nothing, and Pinckney and Marshall left France in disgust, Gerry remaining. When the correspondence of the commissioners was sent to the United States Congress the letters X, Y and Z, were inserted in place of the names of the French agents with whom the commission treated hence the X Y Z Correspondence, famous in American history.

Presidential Politics

In 1800 he was the Federalist candidate for vice-president, and in 1804 and again in 1808 for president, receiving 14 electoral votes in the former and 47 in the latter year. From 1805 until his death he was president-general of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Adapted from 1911 encyclopedia