|7th United States Attorney General|
December 11, 1811 – February 9, 1814
|Preceded by||Caesar A. Rodney|
|Succeeded by||Richard Rush|
|United States Senator
December 21, 1819 – February 25, 1822
|Preceded by||Alexander C. Hanson|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Smith|
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
March 4, 1815 – April 18, 1816
|Preceded by||Alexander McKim|
|Succeeded by||Peter Little|
March 4, 1791 – November 1, 1791
|Preceded by||Benjamin Contee|
|Succeeded by||John F. Mercer|
|United States Minister to Russia|
January 13, 1817 – February 14, 1818
|Appointed by||James Madison|
|Preceded by||James A. Bayard|
|Succeeded by||George W. Campbell|
|U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom|
April 27, 1808 – May 7, 1811
|Appointed by||Thomas Jefferson|
|Preceded by||James Monroe|
|Succeeded by||Jonathan Russell
|3rd Attorney General of Maryland|
|Preceded by||Luther Martin|
|Succeeded by||John Thomson Mason|
|Mayor of Annapolis, Maryland|
|Preceded by||James Williams|
|Succeeded by||Allen Quynn|
|Member of the Maryland State Senate|
|Member of the Maryland House of Delegates|
March 17, 1764|
|Died||February 25, 1822
|Spouse(s)||Ann Maria Rodgers|
Pinkney attended King William school. His teacher was a Mr. Brefhard. At age thirteen he left school but his teacher, aware of the young Pinkney's intelligence, gave him private lessons at home.
He studied medicine (which he did not practice) and law, becoming a lawyer upon admission to the bar in 1786. After practicing law in Harford County, Maryland, he participated in Maryland's state constitutional convention.
In April, 1788, Pinkney was elected a delegate to the convention of the State of Maryland, which ratified the United States Constitution, marking the beginning of his political career.
Pinkney served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1788 to 1792 and then again in 1795, and served as a U.S. Congressman from the third district of Maryland in 1791 and from the fifth district from 1815 until 1816. He was mayor of Annapolis from 1795 to 1800. In 1801 he was appointed Attorney general for the District of Pennsylvania, by President Thomas Jefferson and Attorney General of Maryland from 1805 to 1806.
They were asked by President Jefferson to negotiate with Great Britain to end the harassment of American shipping, though Britain showed no signs of improving relations. They negotiated the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty, but it lacked provisions to end impressment and was subsequently rejected by President Jefferson and never went into effect.
Pinkney was Minister Plenipotentiary from 1808 until 1811. He then returned to Maryland, serving in the Maryland State Senate in 1811. In 1811 he joined President James Madison's cabinet as Attorney General. He was a major in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and was wounded at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland in August 1814. After the War, he served as congressman from the fifth district of Maryland from 1815 to 1816. After serving in Congress he became the U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia from 1816 until 1818, along with a special mission to the Kingdom of Naples.
Pinkney successfully argued many important cases before the Supreme Court, including the landmark case of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), where the right of the US Congress to charter the Bank of the United States was upheld.
His son, Edward Coote Pinkney, became an accomplished poet.
- Hayes, Kevin J. (2008). The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530758-0.
- Ireland, Robert M. (1986). The legal career of William Pinkney, 1764-1822. Garland, 333 pages. Book
- Pinkney, Reverend William (nephew) (1853). The life of William Pinkney. D. Appleton and Company, New York. e'Book
- Wheaton, Henry (1826). Some account of the life, writings, and speeches of William Pinkney. J. W. Palmer & co. e'Book
- "PINKNEY, William, (1764 - 1822)". Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- "William Pinkney, United States statesman". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- United States Congress. "William Pinkney (id: P000362)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- William Pinkney, Seventh Attorney General 1811-1814; U.S. Dept. of Justice