Letters from Timothy Pickering to his brother and father, 1797-1798

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Content Notes

These two handwritten letters by Timothy Pickering were written on February 14, 1797 and June 14, 1798 to his brother John Pickering and his father Timothy Pickering, respectively. The letter to his brother, John, discusses mutual friends, classmate Thomas Lee, and John’s recent attendance at a sermon by Dr. Joseph Priestley. The letter from Timothy to his father includes a discussion of Timothy’s expenses and the amount of money needed to pay his debts, a request for new shoes for commencement, the news of Timothy’s invitation to join honor society Phi Beta Kappa, and a few comments on his forensics course at Harvard.

Biographical Notes

Timothy Pickering was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1779 to Timothy Pickering and Rebecca White. He received his Harvard AB in 1799. Pickering became a midshipman for the United States Navy, spending a few years aboard the frigate USS Philadelphia. Pickering left the Navy to join his father as a farmer and purchased land in Starrucca, Pennsylvania, on the east bank of the Susquehanna River. He married Lurena Cole on December 29, 1804. On May 14, 1807, Pickering died in Pennsylvania of a throat disease or injury.|Pickering’s older brother, John Pickering, was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1777 to Timothy Pickering and Rebecca White. He was raised by his uncle John Pickering in Salem. Pickering received his Harvard AB in 1796, his AM in 1799, and his LLD in 1835. He practiced law until 1827. Pickering served as the United States Minister to England, and in the Massachusetts state Senate and House of Representatives. He was an accomplished linguist and declined several professorships at Harvard. Pickering served on the Harvard Board of Overseers and was founder and president of the American Oriental Society. He died in 1846.|Pickering’s father, Timothy Pickering, was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1745 and received his Harvard AB in 1763, his AM in 1766, and his LLD in 1810. He became Adjutant-General of the United States Army in 1777 and established a close relationship with George Washington. He was appointed Postmaster General in 1791, Secretary of War in 1795, and served as Secretary of State from 1795 until he was dismissed in 1800. Pickering served in the United States Senate and House of Representatives as a Federalist and was an important liaison for U.S.-Indian relations, representing the United States in the negotiation of the Treaty of Canandaigua in 1794. Pickering became interested in farming and wildlands and bought large tracts of land in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Ohio, and Kentucky. After spending some time as a farmer, Pickering decided to sell his land and move closer to his family in Salem. He purchased Wenham Farm in 1806 and lived there for many years. He died in Salem on January 29, 1829.