|United States Senator
December 21, 1819 – February 25, 1822
|Preceded by||Alexander Hanson|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Smith|
|United States Envoy to Russia|
January 13, 1817 – February 14, 1818
|Preceded by||John Quincy Adams|
|Succeeded by||George W. Campbell|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th district
March 4, 1815 – April 18, 1816
|Preceded by||Alexander McKim|
|Succeeded by||Peter Little|
|7th United States Attorney General|
December 11, 1811 – February 9, 1814
|Preceded by||Caesar Rodney|
|Succeeded by||Richard Rush|
|United States Minister to the United Kingdom|
April 27, 1808 – May 7, 1811
|Preceded by||James Monroe|
|Succeeded by||Jonathan Russell (Acting)|
|3rd Attorney General of Maryland|
|Preceded by||Luther Martin|
|Succeeded by||John Thomson Mason|
|Mayor of Annapolis|
|Preceded by||James Williams|
|Succeeded by||Allen Quynn|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 3rd district
March 4, 1791 – November 1, 1791
|Preceded by||Benjamin Contee|
|Succeeded by||John Mercer|
March 17, 1764|
Annapolis, Province of Maryland, British America
|Died||February 25, 1822
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Signature||William Pinkney's signature|
Pinkney attended King William school. His teacher was a Mr. Brefhard. Although he left school at the age of thirteen, his teacher was aware of the young Pinkney's intelligence and gave him private lessons at home.
Pinkney studied medicine (which he did not practice) and law, becoming a lawyer upon admission to the bar in 1786. After practicing law in Harford County, Maryland, he participated in Maryland's state constitutional convention.
His son, Edward Coote Pinkney, became an accomplished poet.
In April 1788, Pinkney was elected a delegate to the convention of the State of Maryland, which ratified the United States Constitution, marking the beginning of his political career.
Pinkney served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1788 to 1792 and then again in 1795, and served as a U.S. Congressman from the third district of Maryland in 1791 and from the fifth district from 1815 until 1816. He was mayor of Annapolis from 1795 to 1800. In 1801 he was appointed Attorney general for the District of Pennsylvania, by President Thomas Jefferson and Attorney General of Maryland from 1805 to 1806.
Pinkney and James Monroe served together as co-U.S. Ministers to the Court of St James's in Great Britain 1806 to 1807. President Jefferson asked them to negotiate an end to harassment of American shipping, but Britain showed no signs of improving relations. They negotiated the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty, but it lacked provisions to end impressment and was subsequently rejected by President Jefferson, never going into effect.
Pinkney was Minister Plenipotentiary from 1808 until 1811. He then returned to Maryland, serving in the Maryland State Senate in 1811. In 1811 he joined President James Madison's cabinet as Attorney General. He was a major in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and was wounded at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland in August 1814. After the War, he served as congressman from the fifth district of Maryland from 1815 to 1816. After serving in Congress he became the U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia from 1816 until 1818, along with a special mission to the Kingdom of Naples.
Pinkney successfully argued many important cases before the Supreme Court, including the landmark case of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), where the right of the U.S. Congress to charter the Bank of the United States was upheld.
Writer, critic, and fellow Baltimore lawyer John Neal dedicated eight pages in his 1823 novel Randolph to criticizing William Pinkney. Though written before Pinkney's death, it was published shortly afterward with a footnote explaining that the author acknowledged Pinkney's death but decided to publish the book as originally written anyway. Though Neal referred to him as "the greatest lawyer in America," he also characterized his speeches as "a compound of stupendous strength; feeble ornament; affected earnestness, and boisterous, turbulent declamation," concluding that "God never meant William Pinkney for an orator." Neal's insults went as far as to call Pinkney "a notorious sloven" who could be seen "wiping his nose and lips on the sleeve of his coat."
On the basis of these printed insults, Pinkney's son Edward Coote Pinkney challenged Neal to a duel, which Neal refused. The episode likely contributed to Neal's decision to leave Baltimore later that year.
- Pinkney, 1853, p. 11
- Pinkney, 1853, p. 14
- Pinkney, 1853, p. 81
- Pinkney, 1853, p. 17
- Wheaton, 1826, p.128
- Hayes, 2008, pp. 504–05
- Encyclopædia Britannica, William Pinkney
- Pinkney, William, Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
- Sears, 1978, p. 55
- Neal, 1823, p. 236
- Neal, 1823, p. 235
- Neal, 1823, p. 236
- Neal, 1823, p. 241
- Lease, 1972, p. 36
- Lease, 1972, p. 37
- Hayes, Kevin J. (2008). The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530758-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Ireland, Robert M. (1986). The legal career of William Pinkney, 1764-1822. Garland, 333 pages.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Book
- Lease, Benjamin (1972). That Wild Fellow John Neal and the American Literary Revolution. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-46969-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Neal, John (1823). Randolph, A Novel. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: For Whom It May Concern.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Pinkney, Reverend William (nephew) (1853). The life of William Pinkney. D. Appleton and Company, New York.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> e'Book
- Sears, Donald A. (1978). John Neal. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 080-5-7723-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Wheaton, Henry (1826). Some account of the life, writings, and speeches of William Pinkney. J. W. Palmer & co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> e'Book
- "PINKNEY, William, (1764 - 1822)". Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Retrieved March 14, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "William Pinkney, United States statesman". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 14, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Media related to William Pinkney at Wikimedia Commons
- William Pinkney at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- William Pinkney, Seventh Attorney General 1811-1814; U.S. Dept. of Justice
- Works by William Pinkney at Open LibraryLua error in Module:EditAtWikidata at line 36: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).