Colonel Timothy Pickering

Portrait of Colonel Timothy Pickering
Colonel Timothy Pickering

Artist: Charles Wilson Peale
Independence NHP


Pickering, Timothy. 1745-1829.

Timothy Pickering was born into a fifth generation New England family in Salem, Massachusetts. Graduating from Harvard University in 1763, he passed the bar and became a lawyer. He performed minimal services as a lawyer, preferring to spend his time holding various civil positions in town. As an officer in the Massachusetts militia he wrote and published guidelines for military operations titled "An Easy Plan of Discipline For a Militia". This widely popular book was used throughout the colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

Pickering, now a colonel, stayed in the militia and did not immediately join the American army full time. In May 1777 that would change when, upon the request of George Washington, he became Adjutant General in the army. Pickering went on to succeed Nathanael Greene as Quartermaster General of the army in 1780.

As Quartermaster General, Pickering was greatly concerned with the welfare of the common soldier. He was always angry with those he believed did not do their best to help the soldiers. He referred to his position as Quartermaster General as "an office so burdensome and a service so ungrateful." However, he remained in the position until 1785 when he finally resigned.

Pickering temporarily returned to private life. In 1795 he held the positions of Secretary of War and Secretary of State. Dismissed from the latter position in 1800, he later served in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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