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Today In Charleston History: August 16

1736- Religion

Charles Wesley sailed back to England. John Wesley returned to Savannah to continue his ministry.

1763-College of Charleston

The Assembly established a committee to make plans for a public college for the young men of the province. It would be seven years before any action was taken and the College of Charleston would be established.

1771 – Dueling 

In a duel that took place in the long room of a tavern, Dr. John Haley, a Charlestown Whig physician, killed Mr. Delancy, a Tory from New York and brother of Mrs. Ralph Izard. Since the duel took place without the presence of seconds, Dr. Haley was charged with murder. At his trial he was defended by Thomas Heyward, Jr. and acquitted which “was considered a great triumph by the Whigs.”

1780 – American Revolution – The Battle of Camden.  
Thomas Pinckney

Thomas Pinckney

This was another major defeat for the Americans. A new Southern Army, commanded by Major General Horatio Gates, was roundly defeated by Cornwallis. With more than 1000 casualties it was the worst American battlefield defeat of the entire Revolution. Thomas Pinckney of Charleston an aide-de-camp to General Gates, and was captured on the battlefield.


Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, eldest son of a politically prominent planter and Eliza Lucas Pinckney, died today.

At age 7, Charles accompanied his father, who had been appointed colonial agent for South Carolina, to England. Pinckney received tutoring in London, attended several preparatory schools, and went on to Christ Church College, Oxford, and graduated in 1764. Pinckney next pursued legal training at London’s Middle Temple and was accepted for admission into the English bar in 1769. He then spent part of a year touring Europe and studying chemistry, military science, and botany under leading authorities.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Late in 1769, Pinckney sailed home and the next year entered practice in South Carolina. In 1773 he acted as attorney general for several towns in the colony. By 1775 he had identified with the patriot cause and that year sat in the provincial congress.

When hostilities broke out, Pinckney, pursued a full-time military calling. When South Carolina organized its forces in 1775, he joined the First South Carolina Regiment as a captain. He soon rose to the rank of colonel and fought in the South in defense of Charleston and in the North at the Battles of Brandywine, PA, and Germantown, PA. He commanded a regiment in the campaign against the British in the Floridas in 1778 and at the siege of Savannah. When Charleston fell in 1780, he was taken prisoner and held until 1782. The following year, he was discharged as a brevet brigadier general.

Pinckney was one of the leaders at the Constitutional Convention. Present at all the sessions, he strongly advocated a powerful national government. His proposal that senators should serve without pay was not adopted, but he exerted influence in such matters as the power of the Senate to ratify treaties and the compromise that was reached concerning abolition of the international slave trade. After the convention, he defended the Constitution in South Carolina.

Under the new government, Pinckney became a devoted Federalist. Between 1789 and 1795 he declined presidential offers to command the U.S. Army and to serve on the Supreme Court and as Secretary of War and Secretary of State. In 1796, however, he accepted the post of Minister to France, but the revolutionary regime there refused to receive him and he was forced to proceed to the Netherlands. The next year, though, he returned to France when he was appointed to a special mission to restore relations with that country. During the ensuing XYZ affair, refusing to pay a bribe suggested by a French agent to facilitate negotiations, he was said to have replied “No! No! Not a sixpence!”

When Pinckney arrived back in the United States in 1798, he found the country preparing for war with France. That year, he was appointed as a major general in command of American forces in the South and served in that capacity until 1800, when represented the Federalists as Vice-Presidential candidate, and in 1804 and 1808 as the Presidential nominee but was defeated on all three occasions.

He was a charter member of the board of trustees of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina), first president of the Charleston Bible Society, and chief executive of the Charleston Library Society. .Survived by three daughters, he died in Charleston at the age of 79 and interred  in the cemetery at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

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