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Charles Pinckney and Separation of Church and State.

All information in this article is excerpted from Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States, Vol I, Harper & Brothers New York, 1950, pp 350-353.
Pinckney studied law with his father, was admitted to the bar in Charleston, was a lieutenant in the Revolution, a prisoner after the capture of Charleston from 1780 to 1787, and a member of the Congress of the Confederation. He had as large a share as any one--some think the largest share--in determining the form and content of the Constitution, as at least thirty-one of its provisions were derived from or influenced by his proposals.

Pinckney was four times governor of South Carolina, also United States senator, and minister to Spain. He began as a Federalist, but from 1798 on, when he won a seat in the Senate, he was a strong Republican, tending increasingly toward democratic views.

Charles Pinckney is principally known as the author of the "Pinckney Plan" for a system of government for the United States [this plan was originally presented to the Constitutional Convention on May 29, 1787]. Unfortunately, the original draft has been lost, but it has been fairly fully reconstructed from the debates in the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787. The story of these debates is recorded elsewhere in these volumes with special reference to its religious-freedom proposals. Unfortunately the records are incomplete, but four things stand out clearly regarding Mr.Pinckney's activities.

It would seem, then, that Charles Pinckney fully deserves a place among our American heroes of religious liberty. He showed more interest in it in the Constitutional Convention than any member other than James Madison, although ably seconded in one or more of his proposals by his distinguished second cousin, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, sometimes erroneously credited with Charles Pinckney's leadership in the Federal religious-freedom cause, and by Gouverneur Morris of New York.

Pinckney also labored effectively for the ratification of the Constitution in his own state, where in the House of Representatives he secured by a vote of 76 to 75 the calling of a convention to consider ratification or rejection of the Federal Constitution. At this convention he made a remarkable speech containing several interesting references to religious freedom. He criticized a relatively liberal European nation--evidently France--for withholding from some citizens "the equal enjoyment of their religious liberties." He added, "How many thousands of the subjects of Great Britain, at this moment labor under Civil disabilities, merely on account of their religious persuasions! " He spoke of the great differences of religious convictions in the states, because of such different groups as Quakers, Roman Catholics, and "Calvinists." "For a people thus situated is a government to be formed--a people who have the justest opinion of their civil and religious rights, and who have risked everything in asserting and defending them."

His speech was an important factor in securing the final ratification of the Constitution by South Carolina by a vote of 149 to 73. This was accomplished May 23,1788.

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