Pickering, John


New Hampshire state & federal judge, 1st federal official impeached and removed from office!


Type: Document
Description: (1737-1805) Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature, Judge for the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire 1795-1804, 1st federal official removed from office upon conviction by impeachment.

Pickering graduated from Harvard in 1761, read law, and initially practiced in Greenland, Province of New Hampshire. He served in the state legislature 1783-87 and in the New Hampshire constitutional conventions of 1781-83 & 1791-92. He served in the State House 1783-87, the State Senate and on the Executive Council to 1790, and was President (Governor) in 1790. In 1787 he was elected a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention, but declined to serve. He was appointed in 1790 to the New Hampshire Superior Court and later served as Chief Justice.

In 1795, an attempt to remove Pickering from the Superior Court due to mental illness got mired in political problems so President Washington was convinced to appoint him to the relatively low workload post of the Federal District Court. Pickering took office in April 1795, recovered from his illness but in 1800 was no longer attending court as expected. On 25 April 1801, court staff wrote the judges of the Federal First Circuit Court of Appeals to send a temporary replacement for Pickering on the grounds that he had gone insane. In March 1802, Pickering returned, adjourned the Court to the next day and disappeared. Federalists in Congress accused Democratic-Republicans of trying to usurp the Constitution by attempting to remove him though he had committed neither high crimes nor misdemeanors as required by the Constitution. On Feb. 4, 1803, President Jefferson sent evidence to the House of Representatives, which voted to impeach Pickering on March 2, 1803 on charges of drunkenness and unlawful rulings. The Senate tried the impeachment and convicted him of all charges on March 12, 1804, immediately removing him from office. He died the following year in Portsmouth.

8 x 7 ½ partly printed colonial DS completed in his hand as attorney for Isaac Rindge, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, March 28 1771, to the sheriff or deputy, summons for Philemon Prescott of Raymond, Province of New Hampshire, to appear to answer for his failure to pay a note in which he promised to pay Rindge 26 pounds on demand with interest, now 27 pounds. Signed by Pickering in the body as “John Pickering Junior” and also as “John”, and on the verso bottom as “J. Pickering”. Signed by/for Rindge at lower right.

Condition: Good, lower left corner tear, folds carefully strengthened & repaired

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