Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Pinckney, [12 March 1801]

From Charles Pinckney

Thursday Morning [12 Mch. 1801] Georgetown

Dear Sir

On considering the offer You have been so good as to make me to go to the Court of Spain I have determined to accept it as I can at all times return whenever my friends in Carolina shall advise me that my presence may be useful or required there in support of the republican interest—L

As it will be necessary for me to return to my family for a short time before I embark for Europe I will thank you to direct the Commission & instructions to be made out & to favour me with an introductory Letter or two to Paris as soon as they can conveniently be furnished, so as not to interfere with your other more important concerns & I will have the honour of calling on you on Sunday morning, if nothing should prevent—

With the greatest respect & regard I am dear Sir Yours truly

Charles Pinckney

RC (DLC); partially dated; addressed: “To The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.


Pinckney’s commission as minister plenipotentiary to Spain was dated 6 June. On that day also TJ and James Madison signed a letter of credence to the king of Spain informing him of Pinckney’s appointment and of “our desire to cultivate the harmony and good correspondence, so happily subsisting” between the two countries (FCs in Lb in DNA: RG 59, Credences; in a clerk’s hand). Madison sent those letters and Pinckney’s instructions to the new minister on 9 June (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 1:273–9; Pinckney to TJ, 8 July 1801).

About this time Pinckney prepared a brief, undated sketch of his public career perhaps to be used in consideration of his confirmation. In the final paragraph he observed, “I am now by the goodness of Providence & your friendship still further promoted,” but, he concluded, “I should not I confess like to have my political ardour & pursuits damped by not being confirmed” (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 119:20538; entirely in Pinckney’s hand). The Senate confirmed the appointment of Pinckney on 26 Jan. 1802 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:404–5).

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