Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Pinckney, [3] December 1800

From Charles Pinckney

[3] December 1800 In Columbia

Dear Sir

I wrote you yesterday a short Letter of sincere congratulation on our success in the Election & as it will be some time before I can be at Washington I wish to detail to you the reasons that will inevitably detain me.—When I was two Years since a candidate for the Senate I pledged myself to the republican Interest of this State to use every Exertion in my power to make a peace with France & place You in the chair & told them that from my belief of their principles & some little knowledge of the American Character & people1 that I believed they only wanted to be properly informed & some Exertions to be used & persevered in to do every thing that was right—In a confidence in my Industry at least & perseverance, the upper Members on this occasion gave up in my favour a rule they had always observed, which was to have one senator from the Upper & one from the lower country, & elected me—You know what has since happened with respect to France & my Exertions on that subject & it only remained at the present time to realize our Expectations respecting your Election.—I clearly foresaw that if Pennsylvania did not vote fully, the Fortune of America depended in a great Measure on the Vote of this state. I also saw that the nomination of General Pinckney was done with a View to divide us & particularly calculated to place me in a difficult & delicate & perhaps dangerous situation—they supposed I had some influence here & thought that family reasons or the number of, otherwise good republicans who would from private & personal attachment support General Pinckney, would draw me off or at least neutralize me—You must remember I mentioned this to You in Philadelphia & the Event has fully justified the opinion I had at that time formed—I returned in June & immediately commenced my Writings & operations for the Elections that were to take place in October throughout every part of the state.—The particulars of the Charleston Election I transmitted & from the Loss of that (they have 17 Members) I found it was indispensable to redouble my Exertions—the Weight of Talent, Wealth, & personal & family influence Brought against us were so great, that after the Charleston Election was lost many of our most decided friends began to despair—the federal party acquired immense confidence & it was under these circumstances I found it indispensable to come to Columbia myself & remain there until the Election was over.—Most of our friends believe that my Exertions & influence owing to the information of federal affairs I gave them, has in a great measure contributed to the decision & firmly believing myself that they were indispensable to Your Success I did not suppose myself at Liberty to quit Columbia until it was over— —they have insured to me the hatred & persecution of the federal party for ever & the Loss of even the acquaintance or personal civility of many of my relatives, but I rejoice I have done my duty to my country & shall ever consider it as among the most fortunate Events of my Life—. If as Governour Monroe writes me Pennsylvania is uncertain, & South Carolina has decided the Point, I shall doubly rejoice at the honour she has done herself & “that she is South Carolina still”— —I am uncertain Yet when I shall, from important public reasons, be able to set out or whether by sea or Land.—I am at present better employed here in fixing the republican Interest in this state like a rock against which future federal storms may beat with less probability of success & when this is finished & the Election of a Senator over I mean to set out.—In the interim believe me with affectionate attachment & great respect

Dear Sir Yours Truly

Charles Pinckney

For fear of accidents to my former Letter I inclose You a Duplicate of the Charleston Petition to shew what Difficulties we had to encounter there & the List of the Votes for Electors here to shew how hard & strongly contested their Election has Been at Columbia— —General Pinckney has taken his seat in the senate the first Day & is now in Columbia— —

I am so occupied here Night & Day in public Business that I have Not one Moment to write to my friends & therefore I will thank You to communicate to my worthy friends General Mason & the Mr Nicholas’s & Mr Burr all such intelligence from our state as I send You or may transmit & you think I would wish them to know.—

This will be delivered to You by a Very confidential young man Who carries our eight Votes for Yourself & Mr. Burr & We have been at some pains to get so confidential a [Man] to carry them— —

Post Script—

Since writing the within I have some reason to Believe that much unfounded & pretended friendly information may be transmitted to promote applications to You & to decieve. I have therefore to request that so far as respects South Carolina, You would be so good as to wait the arrival of a Body of information I am collecting for your use & intend, if nothing prevents, to Bring with me—When I arrive I will submit it to You merely2 for your information on such subjects as are interesting to the Republican Interest in this State & your own Superior Judgment will afterwards3 always best & most safely determine what is right or ought to be done—

RC (DLC); partially dated, with day determined from internal evidence; torn; with final paragraph marked “Post Script” written on separate half-sheet and likely sent with this letter; addressed: “To The Honourable Thomas Jefferson At the seat of the Government of the United States at Washington Favoured By Mr George Brown”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Dec. and recorded in SJL under that date, but as a letter of 6 Dec. Enclosures not found, but see Pinckney to TJ at 22 Nov. for the Charleston petition and Peter Freneau to TJ at 2 Dec. for a list of votes for electors.

Pinckney’s Short letter of sincere congratulation dated 2 Dec. was written on the same sheet as the letter he began on 22 Nov. and is printed above under that date. Before I can be at Washington: Pinckney did not take his Senate seat until 23 Feb. 1801 (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:129). Confidential young man: George Brown.

1Preceding word and ampersand interlined.

2Word interlined.

3Pinckney here canceled “dictate” and then continued “always safely determine what is best to be done” before altering it to read as above.

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