George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Timothy Pickering, 30 March 1777

To Colonel Timothy Pickering

Head Qrs Morristown March 30th 1777


The Office of Adjutant General being vacant by the resignation of Colo. Reed, and the power of appointing a Successor with me, I am induced from the good opinion I entertain of your attachment to the interests of the United States and your Military character, not only to make a tender, but most heartily to wish your acceptance of it. It will give me much pleasure if the Offer meets your concurrence, and if it should, I must request, that you will delay no time in repairing to Head Quarters, the arrangement of the New Army and the good of the Service requiring that the post should be immediately filled. The pay, I presume, you are acquainted with, but lest you should not, I think proper to mention, that it is a hundred and twenty five dollars per month.

Should circumstances put it out of your power to accept it, an event I hope not to happen and which would give me concern, you will be pleased to send the Express with the inclosed letter to Colo. William Lee—Otherwise you will retain it, and return it to me upon your arrival,1 which I trust will be in a few days. I am Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, MHi: Pickering Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Timothy Pickering (1745–1829), an attorney in Salem, Mass., was a colonel in the Essex County militia and the author of a drill manual entitled An Easy Plan of Discipline for a Militia published in 1775. Pickering served as adjutant general of the Continental army from 18 June 1777 to January 1778 and as quartermaster general from August 1780 to July 1785. He also was named a member of the Board of War in November 1777, and he retained his seat on the board after his appointment as quartermaster general. Pickering moved to Philadelphia in 1785 and to Wyoming County, Pa., in 1787, and he served in GW’s presidential administration successively as postmaster general, secretary of war, and secretary of state. Returning to Massachusetts in 1802, Pickering was elected to the U.S. Senate the following year and served until 1811. He was a member of the U.S. Congress from Massachusetts from 1813 to 1817.

1The draft of the enclosed letter of this date from GW to Col. William Raymond Lee reads: “The office of adjutant General having become vacant by the Resignation of Colonel Reed, I am induced, from the good opinion which I entertain of your activity and military Abilities, to make you an offer of that Office. If you should incline to accept, I shall expect to see you without loss of Time, for as the new army is now beginning to collect, all things will run into confusion, if that department, so essentially necessary to the regulation and arrangement of the forces, is not instantly filled. If you should not accept, you will be kind enough to signify the same by return of this Express, that I may immediately look out for some other person. If this should be your determination, you need not mention that you have ever had the offer. The Reason must be obvious to you, it may give umbrage to others” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries