Timothy Pickering

Timothy Pickering (July 17, 1745  January 29, 1829) was the third United States Secretary of State under Presidents George Washington and John Adams. He also represented Massachusetts in both houses of Congress as a member of the Federalist Party. In 1795, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.[1]

Timothy Pickering
Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, 1792
3rd United States Secretary of State
In office
December 10, 1795  May 12, 1800
Ad interim: August 20 – December 10, 1795
PresidentGeorge Washington
John Adams
Preceded byEdmund Randolph
Succeeded byJohn Marshall
2nd United States Secretary of War
In office
January 2, 1795  December 10, 1795
PresidentGeorge Washington
Preceded byHenry Knox
Succeeded byJames McHenry
5th United States Postmaster General
In office
August 12, 1791  January 1, 1795
PresidentGeorge Washington
Preceded bySamuel Osgood
Succeeded byJoseph Habersham
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
March 4, 1803  March 3, 1811
Preceded byDwight Foster
Succeeded byJoseph Bradley Varnum
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts
In office
March 4, 1813  March 3, 1817
Preceded byLeonard White
Succeeded byNathaniel Silsbee
Constituency3rd district (1813–15)
2nd district (1815–17)
Personal details
Born(1745-07-17)July 17, 1745
Salem, Massachusetts Bay, British America
DiedJanuary 29, 1829(1829-01-29) (aged 83)
Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyFederalist
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceMassachusetts militia
Continental Army
 United States Army
Years of service1766–1785
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War

Born in Salem in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Pickering began a legal career after graduating from Harvard University. He won election to the Massachusetts General Court and served as a county judge. He also became an officer in the colonial militia and served in the siege of Boston during the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. Later in the war, he was Adjutant General and Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. After the war, Pickering moved to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania and took part in the then colony's 1787 ratifying convention for the United States Constitution.

President Washington appointed Pickering to the position of Postmaster General in 1791. After briefly serving as Secretary of War, Pickering became the Secretary of State in 1795, and remained in that office after President Adams was inaugurated. As Secretary of State, Pickering favored close relations with Britain. President Adams dismissed him in 1800 due to Pickering's opposition to peace with France during the Quasi-War.

Pickering won election to represent Massachusetts in the United States Senate in 1803, becoming an ardent opponent of the Embargo Act of 1807. He continued to support Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, famously describing the country as "The World's last hope – Britain's Fast-anchored Isle."[2] He left the Senate in 1811 but served in the United States House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. During the War of 1812, he became a leader of the New England secession movement and helped organize the Hartford Convention. The fallout from the convention ended Pickering's political career. He lived as a farmer in Salem until his death in 1829.

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