Timothy Pickering : biography
Timothy Pickering (July 17, 1745January 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.
Pickering had previously served in the Massachusetts militia and Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is often remembered for his Anglophile attitudes, and pushed for pro-British policies during his political career. Pickering famously describing the country as "The World's last hope - Britain's Fast-anchored Isle" during the Napoleonic Wars.Clarfield. Timothy Pickering and the American Republic p.246 He later became involved with the Hartford Convention, and along with many other Federalists opposed the War of 1812.
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. Pickering opposed the American seizure and annexation of Spanish West Florida in 1810, which he believed was both unconstitutional and an act of aggression against a friendly power.Clarfield. Timothy Pickering and the American Republic p.246-247 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).
Washington brought Pickering into the government, 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 British causes, even willingness to wage war with France in service of these causes during the Adams administration. In 1799 Pickering hired Joseph Dennie as his private secretary.
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. 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 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.
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