Frances Leigh Williams, author of a juvenile biography of Eliza Pinckney (Plantation Patriot, 1967), here chronicles the...

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A FOUNDING FAMILY: The Pinckneys of South Carolina

Frances Leigh Williams, author of a juvenile biography of Eliza Pinckney (Plantation Patriot, 1967), here chronicles the lives of four generations of this prominent South Carolina family, emphasizing the patriotic public service of these aristocratic Whigs during the Revolutionary era (1765-1789). Sometimes the narrative becomes clogged because the author seems compelled to describe in detail all major political and military events in which the Pinckneys were even tangentially involved (e.g., the 1777 Battle of Brandywine, at which Col. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was largely an observer). She also tends to ignore or minimize anything that might, justifiably or not, reflect badly on her protagonists. Charles Pinckney I and his second wife, Eliza Lucas, introduced the successful cultivation of indigo to South Carolina in the 1740s; we are not told, however, that the extraction of dye from the indigo plant was one of the most odious (in every sense) forms of labor in 18th-century North America. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention Charles Pinckney III offered the only moral defense of slavery--a fact the author attempts to mitigate by contrasting him with the still more aggressive 19th-century defenders of involuntary servitude. In her conclusion, moreover, she tries to enhance the luster of the wealthy family's Revolutionary war service by claiming that revolutions are usually ""instigated"" by the poor, a dubious assertion at best and in this case inappropriate. Yet Miss Williams has done solid primary and secondary research, and her book--enhanced by biographical chronologies--is essential reading for anyone with a particular interest in the Pinckneys.

Pub Date: July 20, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1978