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|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 6th district
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1795
|Preceded by||District established|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Earle|
September 13, 1739|
Bucks County, Pennsylvania
|Died||August 11, 1817
Tamassee, Oconee County, South Carolina
|Profession||Military officer, Surveyor|
|Nickname(s)||"The Wizard Owl"|
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of Great Britain
United States of America
|Service/branch||South Carolina state militia|
|Years of service||1760–1761 (Britain)
Pickens was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants, Andrew Pickens, Sr. and Anne (née Davis). His paternal great-grandparents were Huguenots Robert Andrew Pickens (Robert André Picon) and Esther-Jeanne, widow Bonneau, of South Carolina and La Rochelle, France.
His family traveled the Great Wagon Road in hopes of finding a new home. Records show they first settled in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and later in 1752, his family moved to the Waxhaws on the South Carolina frontier. He sold his farm there in 1764 and bought land in Abbeville County, South Carolina, near the Georgia border. It was there that he would marry and begin a family. In addition to raising cattle and farming, like most other Scots-Irish immigrants, he became acquainted with his Native American neighbors and built a blockhouse as a base for training.
He established the Hopewell Plantation on the Seneca River, at which several treaties with Native Americans were held, each called the Treaty of Hopewell. Just across the river was the Cherokee town of Isunigu ("Seneca").
A religious man himself, Pickens was also known as the "Fighting Elder" because of his strong Presbyterian faith.
He served in the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1760–1761. When the Revolutionary War started, he sided with the rebel militia and was made a captain. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General during the war.
He emerged as a military leader in Long Cane, fighting against the Cherokee who had allied with the Loyalists. In the year 1779 Henry Clinton deployed British soldiers to both South Carolina and North Carolina to encourage Loyalist support. On February 14, 1779, Colonel Pickens and his three-hundred man militia overtook the larger British force of 700-800 men under Colonel Boyd at Kettle at the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County, Georgia just South of the Long Canes. The victory at Kettle Creek slowed the recruitment of the Loyalists. However, when the British defeated the Southern Continental Army in 1780 in the Siege of Charleston, Pickens surrendered a fort in the Ninety-Six District and he, along with his three hundred militia men, on oath, agreed to sit out of the war.
Pickens' parole did not last, however. After Tory raiders destroyed most of his property and frightened his family, he informed the British that they had violated the terms of parole and rejoined the war. During this period of the war, Pickens would join Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter as the most well-known partisan leaders in the Carolinas. Sumter also resumed fighting under similar circumstances. He saw action at the Battle of Cowpens, Siege of Augusta, Siege of Ninety-Six, and the Battle of Eutaw Springs.
Pickens also led a campaign in north Georgia against the Cherokee Indians late in the war. His victorious campaign led to the Cherokees ceding significant portions of land between the Savannah and Chattachoochee rivers in the Long Swamp Treaty signed in what is currently Pickens County, Georgia. Pickens led a detached militia of 25 men to battle against a Cherokee force of an estimated 150 men in what came to be called the "Ring Fight."  Pickens gained the respect of these Natives, and after the war was well regarded by Native Americans that he dealt with; he was given the name Skyagunsta, "the Wizard Owl," which is reportedly a name based on a well-regarded previous King of the tribe.
At the end of the war, Pickens was elected to public office in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1781-1794. In addition, he was a South Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Pickens was later elected to the Third U.S. Congress, serving from 1793-1795; he served as an Anti-Administration candidate, opposing the policies of then United States Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
Andrew Pickens married Rebecca Floride Calhoun in 1765. They had 12 children, Mary Pickens (1766–1836); Lt. Gov. Ezekiel Pickens (1768–1813), Ann Pickens (1770–1846), son (1772), Jane Pickens (1773–1816); Margaret Pickens (1777–1830); Gov. Andrew Pickens, Jr. (1779–1838), son (1782); Rebecca Pickens (1784–1831); Catherine Pickens (1786–1871) and Joseph Pickens (1791–1853). Andrew Pickens, Jr. became governor of South Carolina in 1817–1819, and Ezekiel Pickens became a lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 1802 to 1804. A grandson was Francis Wilkinson Pickens who was also a governor of South Carolina from 1860–1862.
Andrew Pickens is also the uncle (through his marriage to Rebecca Florida Calhoun) to John C. Calhoun (1782–1850), who was a leading American politician and political theorist during the first half of the 19th century and hailed from South Carolina. John C. Calhoun's home, Fort Hill, can be found on the campus of Clemson University within Pickens County, South Carolina. It is a famous historic landmark in the state of South Carolina.
Pickens was a 7th great-grandfather of former Senator and 2004 presidential candidate John Edwards.
His Hopewell plantation is now owned and maintained by Clemson University.
He is also the namesake of Pickens High School.
Pickens and his actions served as one of the sources for the fictional character of Benjamin Martin in The Patriot, a motion picture released in 2000. In a scene prior to the Battle of Cowpens, Benjamin Martin (character) asks the militia for two rounds before they retreat, reminiscent of Andrew Pickens in the Battle of Cowpens.
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|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 6th congressional district