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Object Details

Maker
Arthur S. Conrad (American, 1907-1975), after Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828)
Date
1948
Geography
United States: District of Columbia: Washington
Culture
North American
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall: 35 in x 30 in; 88.9 cm x 76.2 cm
Provenance
Undocumented
Inscriptions
Signed "A. Conrad" An inscription on the back includes the following: "after the portrait painted in 1808 by Gilbert Stuart and owned by Miss Rebecca Pickering Thomas of Jamaica Plain, Mass. Painted by Arthur Conrad in 1948 for the Department of State."
Credit Line
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Collection
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number
RR-1981.0080

Biography

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Timothy Pickering (1745–1829) graduated from Harvard College and practiced law before joining the Continental Army during the Revolution. He impressed General George Washington as a confident and skilled negotiator. Early in his administration, President Washington sent Pickering on special diplomatic missions to negotiate a peace agreement with the northeastern Indian tribes. Washington then appointed him, in succession, postmaster general, secretary of war, and secretary of state. 

The war between Great Britain and France continued to dominate American foreign policy. Pickering followed a pro-British agenda, and the 1795 Jay Treaty achieved many of his aims since it gave preferential treatment to Britain in matters of trade. But these terms angered the French, who regarded them as a violation of the 1778 treaties of alliance and commerce and began seizing U.S. merchant ships. President John Adams sent peace commissioners to renegotiate trade treaties, but they were not received by the French ministry. Instead, lower-level French diplomats demanded bribes before negotiations could begin in a scandal that became known as the XYZ Affair. Relations deteriorated further, and for the next two years U.S. and French ships attacked each other in an undeclared war, the so-called Quasi War. Pickering’s protests of Adams’s decision to send another commission to France led to his dismissal. The Convention of 1800 ended the Quasi-War as well as the French alliance from 1778. In 1803 Pickering was elected senator from Massachusetts, and he later also served in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Federalist firebrand, he led the movement for New England secession during the War of 1812.

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