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A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.
Volume 426, Page 649   View pdf image (33K)
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of Amanda Lodge, Annapolis, 1793. OCCUPA-
TIONAL PROFILE, lawyer, statesman, diplomat;
admitted to practice law in Harford County Court,
1786. Pinkney has been acknowledged by both
his contemporaries and later historians as one of
the great leaders of the American bar. Although
diplomatic missions took him out of the country
for almost half his career, he maintained an ex-
tensive legal practice in Maryland and was coun-
sel in seventy-two cases before the U.S. Supreme
Court. His arguments in such landmark cases as
McCulloch vs. Maryland and Cohens vs. Virginia
were important to the early interpretation of the
U.S. Constitution. Pinkney's talent as an elo-
quent and persuasive speaker was noted by his
colleagues in the legislature and at the bar. Roger
B. Taney wrote, "He was a profound lawyer in
every department of the science, as well as a pow-
erful and eloquent debater." Scharf calls him "the
most brilliant lawyer the state ever produced."


House, Harford County, 1788, 1789 (Griev-
ances), 1790, 1791-1792; Anne Arundel County,
1795; Senate, Western Shore, Term of 1811-1816:
1811 (did not attend, resigned on December 3,
1811, because of the "urgent duties on my profes-
sion"). OTHER STATE OFFICES: Constitutional
Ratification Convention, Harford County, 1788;
Maryland Senate elector, 1791; Executive Coun-
cil, 1792-1793, 1793-1794, 1795-1795; special
agent for Maryland in bank stock negotiations,
1796-1804; attorney general of Maryland, 1805-
1806. Pinkney's successful handling of the bank
stock negotiations earned him praise from the
Maryland legislature. LOCAL OFFICES: common
councilman, Annapolis, 1794-1796; mayor, An-
napolis, ca. 1794-1795. MILITARY SERVICE: ma-
jor, Rifle Battalion, 5th Baltimore Regiment of
Volunteers, commissioned July 8, 1813, wounded
at Battle of Bladensburg, August 1814. OUT OF
STATE SERVICE: representative, U.S. Congress,
1791 (resigned in November 1791 after the ques-
tion of his eligibility on the basis of residence was
raised), 1815-1816 (resigned on April 18, 1816,
having been appointed minister to Russia); U.S.
Senate, 1820-1821 (elected to fill vacancy; seated
on January 4, 1820), 1821-1822; appointed by
President George Washington commisssioner to
London under the Jay Treaty "to adjust Amer-
ican claims for maritime losses," 1796-1804; joint
commissioner to Great Britain with James Mon-
roe, 1806-1807; minister plenipotentiary to Great
Britain, 1807-1811; U.S. attorney general, De-
cember 11, 1811-February 10, 1814 (resigned fol-

lowing the introduction of a bill into Congress
requiring the attorney general to reside in Wash-
ington, D.C.); minister to Russia with special
mission to the king of the Two Sicilies, nomina-
tions confirmed March 7 and April 23, 1816 (re-
spectively)- February 1818 (resigned). STANDS ON
PUBLIC/PRIVATE ISSUES: credited by James Mc-
Henry (ca. 1752-1816) with originating and sup-
porting the declaration of the Maryland General
Assembly in support of President Washington,
November 1795; drafted U.S. declaration of war
against Great Britain, June 1812; argued against
slavery in the General Assembly in 1789, but sup-
ported the constitutional rights of the slavehold-
ing states in U.S. Senate debates on the question
of the admission of Missouri to the Union. WEALTH


$12,000 from the General Assembly for his part
in the negotiations for the return of Maryland's
bank stock; invested $8,000 of that money in 6%
stock in the Bank of the United States, 1805.
LAND AT FIRST ELECTION: none (probably leased
a lot in Bel Air, Harford County, for his office


85 acres in Harford County in 1789, and received
165 acres in Harford County from his father-in-
law, 1793; sold the 85 acres in 1796; purchased
and immediately sold 138 acres in Baltimore
County, 1814; purchased one-half acre lot on
Whetstone Point, Baltimore City, 1819; by death
owned a lot on Holliday Street, Baltimore City,
which was leased out. WEALTH AT DEATH. DIED.
on February 25, 1822, in Washington, D.C.; bur-
ied in Congressional Cemetery. PERSONAL PROP-
ERTY: TEV, $38,448.83 (including 5 slaves, plate
valued at more than $1,150.00, a library of 736
volumes and 250 pamphlets valued at $800.00,
stock in U.S. Bank, Bank of Baltimore, Franklin
Bank of Baltimore, and Baltimore Library valued
at $21,584); FB, $34,576.94. LAND, probably 165
acres in Harford County and 2 lots in Baltimore
City (his residence was on another lot in Balti-
more City which he leased from Robert Oliver).

PLATER, GEORGE (1695-1755). BORN: in 1695
in Maryland; only son. NATIVE: second genera-
tion. RESIDED: in Annapolis, Anne Arundel
County, by 1724; at "Sotterly," St. Mary's County,
by 1729. Plater's wife Rebecca had a life interest
in "Sotterly." When she died he bought the plan-
tation from her daughters. FAMILY BACKGROUND.
FATHER: George Plater (ca. 1664-1707), who
probably immigrated to Maryland before 1689;



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A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.
Volume 426, Page 649   View pdf image (33K)
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