Matthews, Marty D. 1961–
Matthews, Marty D. 1961–
Marty D. Matthews accepted the challenge of writing a comprehensive biography of Charles Pinckney, a South Carolinian who participated in the framing of the United States Constitution and who served as governor of his native state for four terms. Matthews called his book Forgotten Founder: The Life and Times of Charles Pinckney because Pinckney left behind very little personal correspondence, making a comprehensive biography difficult. It was necessary to reconstruct Pinckney's life using the words of his contemporaries, secondary sources of the times, and examinations of the historical incidents in which he played a role. "Marty D. Matthews has made a valiant and thoughtful effort to portray his subject within the strict limitations that available sources impose," wrote James Haw in the Journal of American History. Haw went on to write that Matthews's work "will probably endure as the standard biography of Pinckney."
Charles Pinckney (1757-1824), the son of prosperous parents, served in the Revolutionary War and became a delegate to the U.S. Congress from 1784 until 1787. He was a signer of the Constitution and, despite his youth, contributed to the construction of the document. In 1790 he helped to draft South Carolina's state constitution. Pinckney was elected governor of South Carolina four times and, by virtue of the consensus-building he did on behalf of Thomas Jefferson, was named U.S. minister to Spain during Jefferson's first term. Toward the end of his life, Pinckney was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he advocated a pro- slavery, states' rights agenda. Matthews's biography concentrates on Pinckney's public life, portraying the politician as instrumental in reconciling the interests of his state's wealthy low-country planters and its upcountry yeoman farmers. Influential on a state and national level, Pinckney nevertheless eluded biographers due to the sparse nature of his correspondence. Worse, according to Jennifer L. Goloboy on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, Pinckney's contemporaries rarely spoke well of him and often complained about his behavior. Goloboy observed that despite these limitations, Matthews "has done an admirable job of fleshing out Pinckney's career."
Some reviewers felt that Matthews's biography furthers understanding of South Carolina's political climate during the early development of the United States. Goloboy noted that the work offers "an intriguing window into an understudied political world." Richard P. Gildrie wrote in the Historian that Forgotten Founder "casts a valuable perspective on the constitutional and political development of South Carolina and the United States from the American Revolution through the Missouri Crisis of 1820." Haw concluded that Matthews offers an unbiased appraisal of Pinckney that nevertheless "enhances Pinckney's historical reputation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Historian, spring, 2006, Richard P. Gildrie, review of Forgotten Founder: The Life and Times of Charles Pinckney, p. 151.
Journal of American History, September, 2005, Archie Vernon Huff, Jr., review of Forgotten Founder, p. 595; November, 2005, James Haw, review of Forgotten Founder, p. 875.
Journal of the Early Republic, summer, 2005, Lorri Glover, review of Forgotten Founder, p. 294.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2004, review of Forgotten Founder, p. 60.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (May 5, 2008), Jennifer L. Goloboy, review of Forgotten Founder.