(1745–1829) Revolutionary War army officer, U.S. representative, U.S. senator, and secretary of state, born in Massachusetts. Pickering became a member of that colony's Committee of Correspondence and supported the cause of independence, although he opposed the creation of a colonial army. In 1777, when it was clear that there was to be no compromise between the Crown and the colonists, he accepted a commission in the Continental army. As quartermaster, he found it increasingly difficult to supply the troops and resigned, disillusioned. In 1790, he was appointed by President George Washington to negotiate with the Seneca Indians, and did so patiently and effectively, attempting to protect them and other tribes from land speculators and retroceding to them thousands of acres of land. In 1795 Washington named him secretary of war. He supported Jay's Treaty and was rewarded later that year with the position of secretary of state. He conspired to undermine President John Adams's attempts to cement peace with France and as a result was dismissed from his post. In 1803 he was appointed to fill out the terms of a retiring U.S. senator and during his time in the Senate remained rigidly pro-British and anti-Republican. Denied a second term in the Senate, he won election to the House of Representatives, where he opposed the War of 1812;having antagonized the political powers, in 1816 he was denied renomination and retired from politics.
From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.