Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Pinkney, William, 1764-1822
Pinkney Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
3 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-3


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the papers of Pinkney and, to a lesser degree, of William Pinkney Whyte (1824-1908), his grandson. Included are several works by Pinkney, his diplomatic correspondence while he was U.S. minister to Great Britain (1807-1811) and to Russia (1816-1818), legal notes, deeds, bookplates, and assorted memorabilia. Pinkney's correspondents include John Quincy Adams, Baron Auckland, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and Jonathan Russell. For Whyte, there is correspondence from such notable figures as James G. Blaine, Reverdy Johnson, and Thomas Swann, as well as several documents. In addition, there is correspondence of several other persons, such as James Buchanan, Cardinal Gibbons, Francois de Kossuth, and various Pinkney family members.

Included in the collection are the notebook of Joseph White, a Pinkney relative, that contains "Historical Notices of the Inauguration of the Presidents" from Washington to Lincoln, and a volume of Pinkney's legal jottings that includes a letter (80 pp.) "To the Editor of the Anti-Jacobin Review" and a 162-page brief of an "Issue in Tail."

Collection Creator Biography:

Pinkney, William, 1764-1822

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.

Collection History


Presented to Princeton University by Mrs. T.P. Dixon Jr.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2000. Finding aid written in 2000.

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

In 2022, restrictions on original material where researchers were required to use a surrogate were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Pinkney Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-3