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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Livingston

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 439-440 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

Robert R. Livingston, jurist, son of Robert (q.v.) and Margaret (Howerden) Livingston, was born in New York City, in August, 1718, died at his country seat, Clermont, New York, December 9, 1775. He acquired an excellent education which thoroughly prepared him for the active duties of life, and he devoted his attention to the practice of law in New York City. He was a member of the provincial assembly, 1759-68, and also served in the capacity of judge of the admiralty court, 1760-63; justice of the colonial supreme court, 1763; a delegate to the stamp act congress of 1765: commissioner to decide upon the boundary line between New York and Massachusetts, 1767, and again in 1773 and a member of the committee of one hundred in 1775. He married Margaret, daughter of Colonel Henry and Janet (Livingston) Beekman.

Robert R. (2), son of Robert R. (1) and Margaret (Beekman) Livingston, was born in New York City, November 27, 1746, died suddenly at Clermont, New York, February 26, 1813. He was a student at King's College, which institution conferred upon him the degrees of A.B., 1765, and A.M., 1768, after which he pursued the study of law under the preceptorship of William Smith and William Livingston. He was admitted to the bar in 1773, and formed a partnership with John Jay, with whom he practiced in New York City, and upon his retirement from public life removed to Clermont, New York, where he engaged in agriculture and stock raising, being the first to introduce gypsum in agriculture, and also introduced Merino sheep west of the Hudson river. Being a man of scholarly attainment and wide influence, he was chosen for positions of public trust and responsibility, fulfilling the duties thereof with ability and credit. He served as recorder of the city of New York by appointment of Governor Tryon, 1773-75, but was obliged to relinquish the position on account of his outspoken espousal of the patriot cause in the latter-named year. He was a member of the provincial assembly in 1775; was a delegate to the continental congress, 1775-77 and 1779-81, and was a member of the committee of five, comprised of Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Livingston and Sherman, appointed to draw up the Declaration of Independence, but was obliged to return to his duties in the provincial assembly without signing the instrument. He was a member of the committee that drafted the state constitution adopted at the Kingston convention in 1777; he was chancellor of the state under the new constitution, 1785-1801, and in that capacity he administered the oath of office to President Washington, April 30, 1789; he was secretary of foreign affairs for the United States, 1781-83, and was chairman of the state convention at Poughkeepsie in 1788, to consider the adoption of the United States constitution. He declined the office of United States minister to France proffered by President Washington in 1794, and in 1801 the portfolio of the navy from President Jefferson, who also offered him the mission to France, which latter he accepted, resigning his chancellorship. While in France he formed a strong friendship with Napoleon Bonaparte; he also made the initial movement that resulted in the purchase of Louisiana from the French in 1803. He resigned from the office of United States minister to France in 1803, after which he spent some time in traveling through Europe, and while in Paris became interested in the invention of the steamboat of Robert Fulton, whom he assisted in his enterprise with his counsel and money, eventually becoming his partner. The first steamboat, owned by Livingston and Fulton, was built in France and was launched upon the Seine, but was a failure, and on returning to America they built and launched on the Hudson another steamboat, the "Clermont," in 1807, which was named in honor of the Livingston home in New York.

The honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred on Mr. Livingston by the regents of the University of the State of New York in 1792. He was a founder of the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York in 1801, and was its first president; was president of the New York Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts, and upon the reorganization of the New York Society library in 1788, he was appointed a trustee. He published many essays and addresses on fine arts and agriculture. His statue, with that of George Clinton, forming the group of the most eminent citizens of New York, was placed in the capitol at Washington by act of congress. In the selection of names for a place in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, New York University, made in October, 1900, his was one of the thirty-seven names in "Class M, Rulers and Statesmen," and received only three votes, his votes in the class equalling those for Richard Henry Lee and Stephen A. Douglas, and exceeding those for Martin Van Buren, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, John J. Crittenden and Henry Wilson.

Mr. Livingston married Mary, daughter of John Stevens, of New Jersey. Children:

  1. Elizabeth S., married Edward P. Livingston.
  2. Margaret M., married Robert L. Livingston.

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