Old Carolina

by | Jun 16, 2005

When you’re from the West, or Midwest, as I am, it can be difficult to properly conceive of the multi-layered histories that wind through American families on the eastern seaboard. Here in Beaufort County, there are many peolpe–black and white–named Pinckney. So, I did some research and it turns out the Pinckney’s have been prominent in this area for over three hundred years.

Planter, soldier and statesman, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, may be the most well-known member of this family, but his mother, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, has quite the storied past, as well. She took over her father’s plantations at 16, after he was called to serve as governor of Antigua. Eliza introduced indigo to the Carolina economy, which sustained the colony for 30 years. She also worked with silk, hemp and flax.


According to the U.S. Army web site, “Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who represented South Carolina at the Constitutional Convention, was an American aristocrat. Like other first families of South Carolina, whose wealth and social prominence could be traced to the seventeenth century, the Pinckneys maintained close ties with the mother country and actively participated in the Royal colonial government. Nevertheless, when armed conflict threatened, Pinckney rejected Loyalist appeals and embraced the Patriot cause. Pragmatically, his decision represented an act of allegiance to the mercantile-planter class of South Carolina’s seaboard, which deeply resented Parliament’s attempt to institute political and economic control over the colonies. Yet Pinckney’s choice also had a philosophical dimension. It placed him among a small group of wealthy and powerful southerners whose profound sense of public duty obliged them to risk everything in defense of their state and the rights of its citizens.”