Biography and History

William Pinkney was born on March 17, 1764, in Annapolis, Maryland. Originally interested in pursuing medicine, Pinkey ultimately chose law as his desired profession and passed the Maryland bar in 1986. After practicing law in Maryland, Pinkney was sent to London by George Washington to serve as an American commissioner. After spending eight years in England, Pinkney returned to the United States and became Attorney General in 1811. In 1816 he left the country again to serve as an American minister in Russia. Pinkney is most famous for his involvement in McCulloch v. Maryland and Cohens v. Virginia, two significant Supreme Court cases. Pinkey passed away unexpectedly on February 16, 1822, in Washington, D.C.

Source: From the finding aid for C0027


  • Diplomats -- United States -- 19th century..
  • Lawyers -- United States -- 19th century..
  • Presidents -- United States -- 19th century..
  • Pinkney Papers. 1804-1911 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0027

    Consists of papers of the notable American statesman and attorney William Pinkney, including writings, political and diplomatic correspondence from his time as minister to Great Britain and Russia, legal notes, deeds, bookplates, and other assorted papers. The collection also contains some papers from his grandson, William Pinkney Whyte, and a notebook from Joseph White, a Pinkney relative.