Get to Know America's "Forgotten Founder" at Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

By:Marie McAden

Date:2/25/2016

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, we’re turning the spotlight on South Carolina’s six national park sites.

Among them is Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, honoring the four-term South Carolina governor who played a critical role in framing the US Constitution. Located in Mount Pleasant, the 28-acre park was once part of Pinckney’s 715-acre Snee Farm estate.

Significance of Park: While he never earned the notoriety of some of America’s other founding fathers, Charles Pinckney was instrumental in helping frame the document that would become the supreme law of our country.

Pinckney was just 29 when he was chosen to serve as a South Carolina delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The second youngest delegate among the 55-member group, he was the only one to introduce a complete plan for the new federal government of the United States. Many of his recommendations were incorporated into the final document, earning him the nickname of “Constitution Charlie.”

In his 1791 tour of the Southern states, President George Washington stopped at Snee Farm to have breakfast.

Things to Do: Your first stop should be the visitor center, housed in an early 19th-century cottage built on the same site as Pinckney’s plantation house. William Matthews razed the original hurricane-damaged home when he purchased the property in 1828 and built his Lowcountry farmhouse from native cypress and pine.

Upon request, park staff will play a 20-minute video that offers an overview of Pinckney’s career and life on the coastal plantation. After viewing the documentary, take a self-guided tour of the exhibits, which include artifacts unearthed by archaeologists on the property. Park rangers are always around to answer any questions you might have about Pinckney, his plantation and the slaves who worked for him.

If You Have More Time: Walk the half-mile trail built on part of the roadway that once connected Snee Farm to US 17. Along the way you’ll find exhibits describing the existing home, archaeological excavations of slave quarters and outbuildings and the agricultural history of the area.

You’ll walk under beautiful magnolia trees and live oaks as you make your way through a tidal wetland to a boardwalk overlooking a small branch of Wampacheone Creek. On the way back to the visitor center, check out the small model of a rice trunk, used to control the flow of water to rice fields.

Special Events: Charles Pinckney's plan for the new federal government provided for the naturalization of citizens. Every September, the park hosts a naturalization ceremony during Constitution Week.

The Details: Located at 1254 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant, Charles Pinckney National Historic Site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free.

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