Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 123

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 123


This is the grave of William Pinkney.

Born in 1764 in Annapolis, he became a lawyer in 1786. He started his political career by being a member of the convention that ratified the Constitution in Maryland. He allied with the Jeffersonians as the first party system developed. He was in a number of different positions over the years, never for very long. He was briefly a member of Congress two different times, neither for a full term. He was Attorney General for Maryland for a whole year. Yet he rose in the Democratic-Republicans. He, along with James Monroe, was sent to London to negotiate a new treaty with the British to stop the impressment of American sailors that would eventually lead to the War of 1812. That was in 1806 and 1807, but they only accomplished a very weak agreement and Thomas Jefferson rejected it. Yet Pinkney remained Minister to Britain from 1808 to 1811. He briefly returned to Maryland and was elected to the state Senate, but was quickly plucked by James Madison to be his Attorney General. He remained there until 1814, even as he joined the Army in the War of 1812 and was wounded in the Battle of Bladensburg. In 1817, James Monroe named him Minister to Russia, but he only served a year, another in a career of very short appointments and positions. Perhaps his biggest contribution came when he argued, along with Daniel Webster, the case of the Second Bank of the United States in McCulloch v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the bank in 1819. This may seem an odd move for a Jeffersonian, but by 1819, many of the old politicians of that ilk, James Madison included, had moved away from the old anti-bank mentality. That same year, he became a senator from Maryland. He served in that position until his death in 1822.

William Pinkney is buried in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
It is main inner container footer text