Timothy Pickering

Timothy Pickering

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Timothy Pickering

title=United States Postmaster General
term_start=August 12, 1791
term_end=January 1, 1795
president=George Washington
predecessor=Samuel Osgood
successor=Joseph Habersham
title2=United States Secretary of War
term_start2=January 2, 1795
term_end2=December 10, 1795
president2=George Washington
predecessor2=Henry Knox
successor2=James McHenry
title3=United States Secretary of State
term_start3=December 10, 1795
term_end3=May 12, 1800
president3=George Washington (1795-1797)
John Adams (1797-1800)
predecessor3=Edmund Randolph
successor3=John Marshall
order4=United States Senator
from Massachusetts
term_start4=March 4, 1803
term_end4=March 3, 1811
predecessor4=Dwight Foster
successor4=Joseph Varnum
order5=Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 3rd district
term_start5=March 4, 1813
term_end5=March 3, 1815
predecessor5=Leonard White
successor5=Jeremiah Nelson
order6=Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 2nd district
term_start6=March 4, 1815
term_end6=March 3, 1817
predecessor6=William Reed
successor6=Nathaniel Silsbee
birth_date=birth date|1745|7|17|mf=y
birth_place=Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1829|01|29|1745|07|17
death_place=Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.
party= Federalist

Timothy Pickering (July 17 1745 – January 29 1829) was a politician from Massachusetts who served in a variety of roles, most notably as the third United States Secretary of State, serving in that office from 1795 to 1800 under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.


Early years

Pickering was born in Salem, Massachusetts to Deacon Timothy and Mary Wingate Pickering. He was one of nine children and the younger brother of John Pickering (not to be confused with the New Hampshire judge) who would eventually serve as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. [Mary Pickering, sister of Timothy, was married to Salem Congregational minister Dudley Leavitt, for whom Salem's Leavitt Street is named. A Harvard-educated native of Stratham, New Hampshire, Leavitt died an untimely death in 1762 at age 42. Mary Pickering Leavitt remarried Nathaniel Peaselee Sargeant of Haverhill, Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Mary Pickering's daughter Elizabeth Pickering Leavitt married Salem merchant William Pickman. [http://books.google.com/books?id=x24MAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=%22dudley+leavitt%22+salem+death&source=web&ots=ClrSsTuN2q&sig=WpD1vO57neZYZn4kRonb2AzuFfc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=10&ct=result] ] He attended grammar school in Salem and graduated from Harvard University in 1763. Salem minister William Bentley noted on Pickering: "From his youth his townsmen proclaim him assuming, turbulent, & headstrong." ["The Diary of William Bentley, D.D., Pastor of the East Church, Salem, Massachusetts", 4 vols. (Gloucester, Mass.: Smith, 1962), 3:352.]

After graduating from Harvard, Pickering returned to Salem where he began working for John Higginson, the town clerk and Essex County, Massachusetts register of deeds. Pickering was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1768 and, in 1774, he succeeded Higginson as register of deeds. Soon after, he was elected to represent Salem in the Massachusetts General Court and served as a justice in the Essex County Court of Common Pleas. On April 8, 1776, he married Rebecca White of Salem. [Octavius Pickering and Charles W. Upham, "The Life of Timothy Pickering", 4 vols. (Boston: Little Brown, 1867-73), 1:7-15, 31.]

In January 1766, Pickering was commissioned a lieutenant in the Essex County militia. He was promoted to captain three years later. In 1769, he published his ideas on the drilling soldiers in the Essex Gazette. These were published in 1775 as "An Easy Plan for a Militia." [Pickering and Upham, "Life of Timothy Pickering", 1:85.]

The American Revolution

In December 1776, he led a well-drilled regiment of the Essex County militia to New York, where General George Washington took notice and offered Pickering the position of adjutant general of the Continental Army in 1777. In this capacity he oversaw the building of the Great chain which was forged at the Stirling Iron Works. The chain blocked the Royal Navy from proceeding up the Hudson River past West Point and protected that important fort from attack for the duration of the conflict. He was widely praised for his work in supplying the troops during the remainder of the conflict. In August 1780, the Continental Congress elected Pickering Quartermaster General. [Pickering and Upham, "Life of Timothy Pickering", 1:34-139, 251-522; 2:69-508; Gerard H. Clarfield, "Timothy Pickering and the American Republic" (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), 47-144; Edward Hake Phillips, "Salem, Timothy Pickering, and the American Revolution," "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 111, 1 (1975): 65-78; David McLean, "Timothy Pickering and the Age of the American Revolution" (New York: Arno Press, 1982).]

Rise to power

After the end of the American Revolution, Pickering made several failed attempts at financial success. In 1783, he embarked on a mercantile partnership with Samuel Hodgdon that failed two years later. In 1786, he moved to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania where he assumed a series of offices at the head of Luzerne County. When he attempted to evict Connecticut settlers living in the area, Pickering was captured and held hostage for nineteen days. In 1787, he was part of the Pennsylvania convention held to consider ratification of the United States Constitution. [Pickering and Upham, "Life of Timothy Pickering", 1:532-35; 2:140-73, 182-325, 369-445; Clarfield, "Pickering and the Republic", 85-115; Jeffrey Paul Brown, “Timothy Pickering and the Northwest Territory,” "Northwest Ohio Quarterly" 53, 4 (1982): 117-32.]

After the first of Pickering's two failed attempts to make money speculating in Pennsylvania frontier land, now-President Washington appointed him commissioner to the Iroquois Indians; and Pickering represented the United States in the negotiation of the Treaty of Canandaigua with the Iroquois in 1794.

Cabinet Member

Washington brought Pickering into his cabinet, as Postmaster General in 1791. He remained in Washington's cabinet and then that of John Adams for nine years, serving as postmaster general until 1795, Secretary of War for a brief time in 1795, then Secretary of State from 1795 to 1800. As Secretary of State he is most remembered for his strong Federalist Party attachments to English causes, even willingness to wage war with France in service of these causes during the Adams administration.

Middle years

After a quarrel with President John Adams over Adams's plan to make peace with France, Pickering was dismissed from office in May 1800. In 1802 Pickering and a band of Federalists, agitated at the lack of support for Federalists, attempted to gain support for the secession of New England from the Jeffersonian United States. The irony of a Federalist moving against the national government was not lost among his dissenters. He was named to the United States Senate as a senator from Massachusetts in 1803 as a member of the Federalist Party. He lost his senate seat in 1811, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in U.S. House election, 1812, where he remained until 1817. His congressional career is best remembered for his leadership of the New England secession movement (see Essex Junto and the Hartford Convention).

Later years and afterwards

After Pickering was denied re-election in 1816, he retired to Salem, where he lived as a farmer until his death in 1829, aged 84. In 1942, a United States Liberty ship named the SS "Timothy Pickering" was launched. She was lost off Sicily in 1945. Until the 1990s, Pickering's ancestral home, the circa 1651 Pickering House, was the oldest house in the United States to be owned by the same family continually.


;Citations and notes;General information
*Clarfield, Gerard H. "Postscript to the Jay Treaty: Timothy Pickering and Anglo-American Relations, 1795-1797," "William and Mary Quarterly" 3d ser., 23, 1 (1966): 106-20.
*Clarfield, Gerard H. "Timothy Pickering and American Diplomacy, 1795-1800." Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969.
*Clarfield, Gerard. "Timothy Pickering and the American Republic." Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.
*Clarfield, Gerard H. "Timothy Pickering and French Diplomacy, 1795-1796." "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 104, 1 (1965): 58-74.
*Clarfield, Gerard H. "Victory in the West: A Study of the Role of Timothy Pickering in the Successful Consummation of Pinckney‘s Treaty," "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 101, 4 (1965): 333-53.
*Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes. "American National Biography", vol. 17, "Pickering, Timothy". New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
*Guidorizzi, Richard Peter. "Timothy Pickering: Opposition Politics in the Early Years of the Republic" Ph.D. diss, St. John’s University, 1968.
*Hickey, Donald R. "Timothy Pickering and the Haitian Slave Revolt: A Letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1806," "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 120, 3 (1984): 149-63.
*McCurdy, John Gilbert. "'Your Affectionate Brother': Complementary Manhoods in the Letters of John and Timothy Pickering." "Early American Studies" 4, 2 (Fall 2006): 512-545.
*McLean, David. "Timothy Pickering and the Age of the American Revolution." New York: Arno Press, 1982.
*Pickering, Octavius, and Charles W. Upham. "The Life of Timothy Pickering." 4 vols. Boston: Little Brown, 1867-73.
*Phillips, Edward Hake. "The Public Career of Timothy Pickering, Federalist, 1745-1802." Ph.D. diss, Harvard University, 1952.
*Phillips, Edward Hake. "Salem, Timothy Pickering, and the American Revolution." "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 111, 1 (1975): 65-78.
*Phillips, Edward Hake. "Timothy Pickering at His Best: Indian Commissioner, 1790-1794." "Essex Institute Historical Collections" 102, 3 (1966): 163-202.
*Prentiss, Harvey Pittman. "Timothy Pickering as the Leader of New England Federalism, 1800-1815." New York: DaCapo Press, 1972.
*Wilbur, William Allan. "Crisis in Leadership: Alexander Hamilton, Timothy Pickering and the Politics of Federalism, 1795-1804." Ph.D. diss, Syracuse University, 1969.
*Wilbur, W. Allan. "Timothy Pickering: Federalist, Politician, An Historical Perspective," "Historian" 34, 2 (1972): 278-92.
*Wilentz, Sean "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln" W.W. Norton. New York. 2005.

External links

* [http://www.qmfound.com/COL_Timothy_Pickering.htm Biography and portrait] at Quartermaster-Generals

NAME=Pickering, Timothy
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American statesman
DATE OF BIRTH=July 17 1745
PLACE OF BIRTH=Salem, Massachusetts
DATE OF DEATH=January 29 1829
PLACE OF DEATH=Salem, Massachusetts

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