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.
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. He later became involved with the Hartford Convention, and along with many other Federalists opposed the War of 1812.
In February 1775 men under Pickering's command were involved in a bloodless confrontation with a detachment of British regulars under Alexander Leslie who had been despatched from Boston to search Salem for contraband artillery. Two months later, Pickering's troops marched to take part in the Battle of Lexington and Concord but arrived too late to play a major role. They then became part of the New England army assembling outside Boston to lay siege to the city.
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.
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.
Timothy Pickering was one of the authors of the Alien & Sedition Acts. Alien Friends Act, authorized the president to deport foreigners deemed "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States" during peacetime. A companion law, "An Act respecting Alien enemies" or Alien Enemies Act, allowed the president to arrest, imprison, and deport any foreigner subject to an enemy nation. The Sedition Act, as it was known, declared such activities—as "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" and publishing "any false, scandalous and malicious writing" against the president or the Congress—to be high misdemeanors, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Abuse toward Vice-president Jefferson in papers was tolerated though. Secretary of State Timothy Pickering was in charge of enforcing the Alien and Sedition Acts. He immediately began to read as many Republican newspapers as he could, looking for evidence of sedition against President Adams and Congress. Benjamin Franklin Bache was editor of the Aurora and had accused in his paper "the blind, bald, crippled, toothless, querulous Adams" of nepotism and monarchical ambition. He was arrested in 1798 under the Sedition Act, but he died of yellow fever before trial. Anthony Haswell reprinted parts of the Aurora, including Bache's claim that the federal government had employed Tories. In the midst of the 2001 propaganda of President George W. Bush David McCullough published a biography on John Adams, an ancestor of the presidents traced though the Walker side of the family, which warmed up public opinion to Federalist policies his administration was going to reenact. One of which was the Alien Sedition & Acts which was incorporated in the Homeland Security Acts. As the Alien & Sedition Acts had more power over domestic policy than foreign, so did the new Homeland Security Acts. Another attitude copied from the Federalist was a hatred for France (Liberty Fries) and a new alignment with British agendas (Coup against Chavez in Venezuela and involvement in Afghanistan). So many of Pickering's ideals are still alive today.
After a quarrel with Adams he lost his post. 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.
"He was a thoroughgoing elitist, and he reveled in it," says biographer Robert Remini. He was nicknamed Black Dan, a bad drunk, and a womanizer. As the inspiration for Sam the Eagle on the Muppets, but even uglier, it is hard to believe the last accusation. Webster was a spokesman for modernization, banking, and industry, but not for the common people who composed the base of his opponents in Jacksonian Democracy. One of the highest-regarded courtroom lawyers of the era, Webster shaped several key U.S. Supreme Court cases that established important constitutional precedents that bolstered the authority of the federal government. During his 40 years in national politics, Webster served in the House of Representatives for 10 years (representing New Hampshire), in the Senate for 19 years (representing Massachusetts), and was appointed the United States Secretary of State under three presidents. In 1839, the Whig Party nominated William Henry Harrison for president. Webster was offered the vice presidency, but declined. Harrison died one month after his inauguration, meaning that if Webster had accepted the offer, he would have become president after all. Webster tried and failed three times to become President of the United States under the support of Stephen White who was head of the Whig Party. It was also Webster who tried two innocent men to their death for the murder of Stephen White's Uncle Joseph. Some speculate that Stephen actually murdered his uncle, including his brother-in-law Superior Court Justice Joseph Story. This bold act will lead Stephen to plot the assassination of President William Harrison after he refused to create the Third Bank of the United States with Story and Webster. Stephen White will then die 3 days after Harrison.
President Harrison appointed Webster to the post of Secretary of State in 1841, a post he retained under President John Tyler after the death of Harrison a month after his inauguration. A death most likely carried out by Webster and his son who was Cerk of State. A murder planned by Daniel Webster's Daughter's father-in-law after Harrison refused to create the Third Bank of the United States.Webster later served again as Secretary of State in President Millard Fillmore's administration from 1850 until 1852 after the mysterious death of President Taylor only months after President Polk. Including Harrison they all refused to create the Third Bank of the united States and all of them died from Typhoid poisoning.
In support of Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that required federal officials to recapture and return runaway slaves and his statement that northern factory owners treated their employees no better than slaves, Webster was bitterly attacked by abolitionists in New England who felt betrayed by his compromises. The Rev. Theodore Parker complained, "No living man has done so much to debauch the conscience of the nation." Horace Mann described him as being "a fallen star! Lucifer descending from Heaven!" James Russell Lowell called Webster "the most meanly and foolishly treacherous man I ever heard of." The abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier characterized him as being "fiend goaded" in his poem Ichabod. His other literary call to fame was in the novel "The Devil and Daniel Webster". He was made a main character because it was said he could talk the devil out of anything. The "Know-Nothings" were the last to support him right before his death in 1852.
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