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Forgotten Founder
The Life and Times of Charles Pinckney

Marty D. Matthews

An original biography of an important, yet overlooked statesman in early U.S. history

Charles Pinckney (1757–1824) was born into one of South Carolina's most prominent families and quickly became one of the state's most influential figures. Born in Charleston, Pinckney grew up there and on his father's plantations in the Carolina lowcountry. He served in the state militia during the American Revolution and was captured at the surrender of Charleston in 1780. Later he attended the Confederation Congress in 1784. But he is best known for his representation of the Palmetto State at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he presented one of the few complete drafts of government for the new nation. The "Pinckney Draft" of the Constitution would play an integral part in the controversy that swirled around him, giving Pinckney's political enemies ammunition for their charges of arrogance and vanity,and perplexing historians for nearly a century.

Within thirteen years of the convention, Pinckney forsook his heritage and broke with his family—most of whom were staunch Federalists—to support the Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson in the pivotal election of 1800. Pinckney's efforts on Jefferson's behalf helped propel the Virginian into the presidency and changed the course of American political history. As a reward, Pinckney was named minister to Spain, where he served until 1806 before returning home and to state and to national politics. Soon after suffering financial ruin in his personal life, Pinckney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served during the Missouri Controversy of 1820. Pinckney's impassioned speeches in Congress helped lay the groundwork for the states rights ideology that eventually would dominate South Carolina and her southern neighbors, leading them to rebellion and civil war in 1861.

Pinckney's importance has been long overshadowed by that of luminaries such as James Madison and even by other members of the Pinckney family. In Forgotten Founder, Marty D. Matthews addresses the reasons for such oversights and examines Pinckney's many important contributions to the founding of the American republic.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Marty D. Matthews received a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in history from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of South Carolina. Matthews lives with his wife in Camden, South Carolina.

"Thanks to Marty D. Matthews Charles Pinckney is no longer a 'forgotten founder.' Because of Matthews's investigative, analytical, and writing skills, the friends of Snee Farm who in the late 1980s championed the establishment of the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site can take pride in their pioneering efforts to ensure that Pinckney's service to his nation, his state, and the American people is recognized. Forgotten Founder is a must read for those desirous of knowing more about the framers of the Constitution, but because of Pinckney's longevity his belief of what they had in their minds is important if we are to understand the philosophy of John C. Calhoun and his followers that led first to nullification and then to secession."—Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus, National Park Service

"This well researched and engaging study by Marty D. Matthews promises to become the standard work on one of the hitherto least understood but most important political figures from the lower South in early American history."—Robert M. Weir, Department of History, University of South Carolina



book jacket for Forgotten Founder


6 x 9
224 pages
8 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-547-0
hardcover, $29.95s

    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press