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Timothy Pickering: A Featured Biography

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Timothy Pickering

In 1811, after violating a Senate rule regarding injunctions of secrecy, Massachusetts senator Timothy Pickering became the first of nine senators ever to be censured by the Senate. In an effort to prove President James Madison had acted unconstitutionally in seizing part of West Florida from Spain, Pickering overlooked a rule that protected a document from being publicly shared. One of the last members of the Federalist Party, Pickering's mistake cost him reelection to the Senate in 1811. He was, however, elected to serve in both the 13th and 14th Congresses as a Federalist Representative from Massachusetts. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 17, 1745, Pickering attended Harvard and studied law after graduating in 1763. A colonel in the Revolutionary army, he later served as quartermaster general (1780), postmaster general (1791), secretary of war (1795), and secretary of state (1795-1800), before becoming a U.S. senator in 1803.


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