Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PINKNEY, William, statesman, born in Annapolis, Maryland, 17 March, 1764; died in Washington, 25 February, 1822. His father was an Englishman by birth and was a loyalist during the American Revolution. Young Pinkney showed his independent spirit as a boy by joining the patriotic side. Owing to the troubled state of the tithes, his early education was imperfect, but he made up for this deficiency by diligent application as he approached manhood. He first chose medicine as a profession, but becoming acquainted with Judge Samuel Chase, who offered to take him as a pupil, he began the study of. law at Baltimore in 1783, and three years afterward was admitted to the bar. He practised successfully in Harford county, Maryland, for a few years, and was sent from that district in 1788 to the State convention that ratified the constitution of the United States. In the same year he was elected to the house of delegates, in which he continued to represent. Harford county till his return to Annapolis in 1792. His speeches in the legislature by his natural eloquence and his pure and felicitous diction won for him more than a local reputation. From 1792 till 1795 he was a member of the executive council of Maryland. In 1796 President Washington appointed him a commissioner on the part of the United States, under Jay's British treaty of 1794, to determine the claim of American merchants to compensation for losses and damages by acts of the English government. This was the beginning of his diplomatic career abroad. The particular service, involving the consideration of many nice questions of admiralty law, gave employment to Pinkney's best powers. He remained in England until 1804, when he returned home and resumed the practice of the law in Baltimore. The next year he was appointed attorney-general of the state of Maryland. In 1806 he was again sent to England as commissioner, jointly with James Monroe, to treat with the English government respecting its continued aggression, in violation of the rights of neutrals. When Mr. Monroe retired in 1807, Pinkney was left as resident minister in London, in which post he remained until President Madison recalled him in 1811, at his own earnest solicitation. On his return to Maryland he was elected a member of the state senate, and at the close of the year President Madison appointed him attorney-general of the United States. He was an earnest advocate of the war of 1812, and defended the policy of the government both by his pen and sword, being wounded at the battle of Bladensburg while leading' a company of riflemen. In 1814 he resigned his post as attorney-general when the law was passed requiring that officer to reside at the seat of government. In 1815 he was elected to congress from Baltimore, but he resigned the next year on being appointed by President Monroe minister to Russia and special envoy to Naples. He remained abroad two years, but, feeling the want of his legal income, he resigned in 1818, returned to Baltimore, and resumed the practice of his profession. He was engaged in most of the chief cases in the supreme court of the United States during the next four years. In 1820 he was elected to the United States senate and took an active part in the discussion on the admission of Missouri into the Union. He continued also his labors in the supreme court, and while engaged in his double duties at the bar and in the senate he was attacked by the illness that terminated his life.--William's son, Edward Coate, author, born in London, England, 1 October, 1802; died in Baltimore, 11 April, 1828, passed the first nine years of his life in the British metropolis, at the end of which time he was brought by his father to the home of the family in Baltimore. Soon after his arrival, young Pinkney entered college, but before he had completed his studies he was taken away and placed in the United States navy. After remaining six years he resigned on account of a quarrel with Commander Ridgely, his superior officer, whom he challenged to fight a duel. The commodore treated the challenge as the freak of a boy, and declined to notice it. This roused the anger of the young midshipman, and he posted Ridgely in the streets of Baltimore. After leaving the navy, Pinkney began the study of the law, and in 1824 was admitted a member of the Baltimore bar. But he was known to be a poet, a character which the wisdom of the world has decided to be incompatible with those serious studies necessary for eminence at the bar. In 1825 he published his exquisite poems in a thin volume of about sixty pages. They were written between his twentieth and twenty-second year. Of these " The Health" and "The Picture Song" are still popular. Extracts from them were circulated throughout the United States, and established his reputation. As an evidence of the estimation in which he was held, it is sufficient to mention that when it was determined to publish biographical sketches of the five greatest poets of the country, with their portraits, Edward Pinkney was requested to sit for his miniature to be used in the proposed volume. 'fired of the law, which he found even less profitable than poetry, Pinkney in 1825 embarked for Mexico, with the intention of joining the patriots, who were fighting for the independence of their country. But the Mexican navy was full, and while waiting for a vacancy he became involved in a quarrel with a native, whom he killed in a duel and was obliged to flee the country. He returned to Baltimore disappointed, discouraged, and almost crushed by sickness and sorrow. The year after his return from Mexico, Pinkney was appointed professor of rhetoric and belles-lettres in tile University of Maryland. There was no salary attached to the post, but it was given to him in recognition of his brilliant scholarship. In December, 1827, he was chosen editor of tile " Marylander," a political newspaper that had been established in the interest of John Quincy Adams, at that time president of the United States. A few months after taking charge of the "Marylander" Pinkny's health, which had been declining gradually, failed, and by 1 April, 1828, he was on his death-bed.--Another son, Frederick, born at sea, 14 October, 1804: died 13 June, 1873, was deputy attorney-general of Maryland, and assistant editor of the "Marylander," and subsequently of the "Baltimore Patriot." During the civil war he published poems and songs that became popular. -William's brother, Ninian, author, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1776; died there, 16 December, 1825, entered the United States army as lieutenant of infantry in 1799, became captain in 1807, was major of the 5th infantry, and aide to General James Wilkinson in 1813, became lieutenant-colonel in 1814, and commanded the 5th regiment at Lyons' creek, for which service he was honorably mentioned in the report of the commanding officer. In 1820 he was promoted colonel. In 1807-'8 he made a tour of the south of France, an account of which he embodied in a book entitled "Travels in the South of France and in the Interior of the Provinces of Provence and Languedoc by a Route never before performed" (London, 1809). Leigh Hunt said of this book: "It set all the idle world to going to France to live on the charming banks of the Loire."--Ninian's son, Ninian, surgeon, born in Annapolis, Maryland, 7 June. 1811 ; died near Easton, Maryland, 15 December, 1877, was graduated at St. John's college, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1829, and at Jefferson medical college in 1833. He entered the United States navy as assistant surgeon in 1834, became surgeon in 1841, was fleet sturgeon of the Mississippi squadron in 1863-'5, and became medical director with the rank of commodore :in 1871. He received the degree of LB. D. from St. John's college in 1873. Dr. Pinkney delivered many addresses, including "Home and Foreign Policy of the United States" before the house of delegates of Maryland (1855); one on the presentation of the American flag that was hoisted by Commander Matthew C. Perry in Japan (1853); and an address before the societies of St. John's college (1873).--William's nephew, William, P. E. bishop, born in Annapolis, Maryland, 17 April, 1810; died in Cockeysville, Maryland, 4 July, 1883, was graduated at St. John's college, Annapolis, in 1827, prepared for the ministry, and was ordained deacon in Christ church, Cambridge, Maryland, 12 April, 1835, by Bishop Stone, and priest in All Saints' church, Frederick, Maryland, 27 May, 1836, by the same bishop. For a brief period he was in charge of the parish in Somerset. From that place he removed to Bladensburg. where he became rector of St. Matthias's church. Several years later he accepted the rectorship of the Church of the Ascension, Washington, D. C., which he held when he was called to the episcopate. He received the degree of D. D. from St. John's college in 1855, and that of LL.D. from Columbian university, Washington, D. C., and from William and Mary in 1873. Dr. Pinkney was elected assistant bishop of Maryland, and was consecrated in the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D. C., 6 October, 1870. On the death of Bishop Whittingham in October, 1879, he became bishop of the diocese. He published a "Life" of his uncle, William Pinkney (New York, 1853), and a " Memoir of John H. Alexander, LL.D.," which he read before the Maryland historical society (Baltimore, 1867).
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