Thomas Pinckney Tickets John Adams

Thomas Pinckney Tickets John Adams

Thomas Pinckney was an extremely important Founder who spent time as a prisoner of war in the Revolution, became Governor of South Carolina and served as Minister to Great Britain.

Pinckney went on to be John Adam’s running mate in the first competitive Presidential race.

Thomas Pinckney

Born in South Carolina, Thomas Pinckney was brought to England with his family at the age of 3.  There he stayed, receiving the finest of educations, until his 21st year when he decided to return to America.

Despite knowing almost nothing except that of Europe, Pinckney felt tide to his place of birth and made the decision to join the Patriots during the American Revolution.

Thomas signed up for the Continental Army and was positioned as an aide-de-camp for General Horatio Gates.  Pinckney served honorably but was captured during the disastrous Battle of Camden.

After spending a year as a prisoner of war, Thomas was released.


Pinckney spent the next several years as a private citizen, but by 1787 the public called for him again and he was elected as Governor of South Carolina.  This is an impressive post considering it was his first time holding office.

During Thomas’ time a Governor, the Constitution was proposed to the separate States. Pinckney’s responsibility was to call together a Ratification Convention. Thomas chaired the Convention which approved the new United States government.

Minister to Great Britain

When George Washington took office as President, he chose Thomas Pinckney as Minister to Great Britain.  He sailed for London to replace John Adams, who had been elected Vice-President.

While in England, Pinckney had a great deal of trouble getting anything resolved with the British government.  

The Brits were still quite unhappy about the whole ‘losing the American colonies’ thing and were therefore unwilling to bargain.

Eventually, John Jay sailed over to help out.  


The result of Pinckney’s time in England was the Jay Treaty. The Jay Treaty was disliked by many Americans for a variety of reasons, but it seems to have been the best these two men could do.

But wait…why was it called the Jay Treaty and not the Pinckney treaty?  

Well, because Pinckney had another Treaty named after him about this time.  Thomas was also an Envoy Extraordinary to Spain and the Pinckney Treaty (also called the Treaty of San Lorenzo) was an agreement deciding on the borders of the United States and New Spain.  

The Pinckney Treaty was significant because New Spain bordered the United States on both the western and southern borders.  Additionally, led by Bernardo de Galvez, Spain had been an important ally in the Revolutionary War.

The Pinckney Treaty secured a much needed friendship.

Presidential Race

Upon his return to the United States, Thomas Pinckney was put on the ticket as the running mate of John Adams in the race to replace Washington as the Second President.  

The Federalist Party wanted Adams for President and the Democratic-Republicans wanted Thomas Jefferson. The rules of these early elections were strange, however, and the person who received the second most votes for President became Vice President.  

Pinckney was chosen to take southern votes away from Jefferson.

Unfortunately, Pinckney was too good at stealing Jefferson’s votes and many northern Federalists were afraid he would beat Adams and become the President himself.  Therefore, many of his initial supporters voted against him in the end.

The result of America’s first competitive election left John Adams President and Thomas Jefferson Vice-President.  Thomas Pinckney came in third in voting.

He was close, however.

Pinckney lost the Vice-Presidential seat to Jefferson by just 9 electoral votes.

On top of that, Pinckney lost the race to be the Second President of the United States by just 12 electoral votes.

Later Years

This, in many ways, was the pinnacle of Thomas Pinckney’s revolutionary career.  

His brother, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, ran as Adams’ running mate in the following election (and then was twice the Federalist Presidential candidate after that).

Pinckney would instead spend four years as one of South Carolina’s members of the House of Representatives, but his service had nothing noteworthy happen.

Years later, President Madison would name Pinckney as a Major General in the War of 1812. Pinckney participated in the southern theater of this engagement. He was mostly involved in what we now know as the Creek War.

Thomas Pinckney spent his final years as president of the Society of the Cincinnati, a group which was established as a brotherhood for veterans of the Revolutionary War.

If you would like to learn more about the life of Thomas Pinckney, you can read a biography written by his grandson, Charles, in 1898 here.

You can also pick up a copy through our affiliate Amazon through the link below if you would like to support this site.

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