Pickering, Timothy, 1745-1829

Alternative names
Birth 1745-07-17
Death 1829-01-29
United States

Biographical notes:

Timothy Pickering (b. July 17, 1745, Salem, MA–d. January 29, 1829, Salem, MA) was a politician from Massachusetts who served as 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.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, 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 and served as Adjutant General and Quartermaster General of the Continental Army during the war. After the war, Pickering moved to the Wyoming Valley and took part in Pennsylvania'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 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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  • Pennsylvania, PA, US
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  • Salem, MA, US
  • Salem, MA, US
  • Massachusetts, MA, US