A team of University of South Carolina historians is working on a new project that will provide insight and Southern perspective on the era that led to the American Revolution and eventual independence.
“The Papers of the Revolutionary Era Pinckney Statesmen Digital Edition” is a multi-year initiative to collect, transcribe and publish online the letters and papers of Lowcountry brothers Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney and their cousin Charles Pinckney.
The trio played leading roles in military, political, economic, social and diplomatic affairs on the state and national stages from the American Revolution through the War of 1812. The project was recently awarded funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, part of the National Archive.
Researcher Marty Matthews told South Radio Network that the Pinckneys have, for the most part, been left out of American history. “They have been overlooked in many ways by historians in favor of who we normally think of around the Fourth of July. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin.”
Matthews said the Pinckney’s situation parallels South Carolina’s. “The state of South Carolina during the Revolution has been overshadowed in many ways by New England and what happened in Boston or Philadelphia,” although historians do acknowledge it had more Revolutionary War battles than any other state.
Thomas and Charles Cotesworth were both vice presidential candidates during the 1796 and 1800 elections, respectively, and Cotesworth tried unsuccessfully to defeat incumbent President Thomas Jefferson in 1804. Both Charles Pinckneys were signers of the U.S. Constitution, while Thomas negotiated a treaty to set the Southern border of the U.S. with Spanish-held territories in Florida.
The project could take up seven years to complete. It is designed as a born-digital publication of approximately 3,000 documents, selected from among a larger corpus of personal papers state government records, national political, military, diplomatic and organizational records.
It will identify, collect, transcribe, verify, annotate, and publish in a selective digital scholarly edition the personal and public papers of these three men within the time period 1769 to 1828. The edition will be published by Rotunda, the digital imprint of the University of Virginia Press, in its “American Founding Era Collection” between 2016 and 2020. It will contain transcriptions, not facsimiles. It will include incoming and outgoing correspondence as well as significant writings by or to their immediate families.