LIVINGSTON, Robert R.

1746–1813

Biography

LIVINGSTON, Robert R., (brother of Edward Livingston and cousin of Philip Livingston and William Livingston), a Delegate from New York; born in New York City November 27, 1746; was graduated from King's College (now Columbia University), New York City, in 1765; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1773 and commenced practice in New York City; city recorder 1773-1775; member of the provincial convention of 1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1775-1776, 1779-1780 and 1784; one of the committee of five appointed to draw up the Declaration of Independence but returned to duties in the provincial assembly before it was signed; delegate to the State constitutional convention in April 1777; Secretary of Foreign Affairs from August 1781 to August 1783; chancellor of New York State 1777-1801 and administered the oath of office to President Washington April 30, 1789; unsuccessful candidate for Governor of New York in 1798; Minister Plenipotentiary to France 1801-1804; assisted Robert Fulton and was his partner in constructing the first steamboat; died in Clermont, N.Y., February 26, 1813; interment on his estate, "Clermont," near Clermont, N.Y.; reinterment in St. Paul's Churchyard, Tivoli, N.Y.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

The New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1707-1862, 21.5 linear feet. The papers and correspondence of Robert R. Livingston and other members of the Livingston family. Robert R. Livingston's correspondence deals with family matters; negotiations in Paris for the Louisiana Purchase; travel in Europe; his import of merino sheep to his estate in Clermont (N.Y.); and his business relations with Robert Fulton in the steamboat navigation of the Hudson River. There is also a large body of correspondence of his distant cousin, Walter Livingston. Walter Livingston's correspondence contains some letters and accounts related to his activities as Deputy Commissary General during the Revolutionary War, but most of it relates to the settlement of the estate of his father, Robert Livingston, and to his own business activities, including the operation of the iron furnace at Ancram (N.Y.), and investments in land in New York and Vermont. Some of Walter Livingston's investments involved William Duer. There is also a large body of material related to the settlement of Robert R. Livingston's estate, and to the business activities of his son-in-law, Robert L. Livingston. Robert L. Livingston had extensive landholdings, and was involved in the North River Steam Boat Company. The collection is also available and only accessible to researchers on microfilm.
Papers: 1770-1782, 1 volume. A case register for Robert R. Livingston and John Jay until their partnership ended, thereafter used by Robert R. Livingston for his own cases (1770-1782). Records services and costs associated with their cases in the New York courts including the New York Supreme Court and the Mayor's Court. Includes index. Bound with a linen-backed technical drawing of a piece of machinery, possibly a pump.
Papers: 1800, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to an unidentified recipient on January 10, 1800. In the letter, Robert R. Livingston writes to share his interest in local natural history and "those arts & sciences that are connected with the happiness of man." He refers to a society over which he presides and says he has sent on the last number of their printed work. It may be that the society referred to is the Society For The Promotion of Agricultural Arts & Manufactures, to which Robert R. Livingston belonged at that time.
Papers: 1809-1814, 1 volume. The account book of Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston for the steamboats "Car of Neptune", "Paragon", and other Ohio, Lake Champlain, and North River steamboats, showing disbursements and receipts (1809-1814). Also includes a few copies of contracts and correspondence as well as notes on the case of Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton vs. Lake Champlain boat.
Microfilm: In the William Alexander Papers, ca. 1767-1782, 1 linear foot. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Aaron Burr Papers, 1777-1836, approximately 2,000 items. Other authors include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Donald F. Clark Collection, n.d., 795 items. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the LeBoeuf Collection, n.d., approximately 215 items. Persons represented include Robert R. Livingston.

Clermont State Historic Site

Germantown, NY
Papers: 1775-1822, 0.3 cubic foot. The letters to Robert R. Livingston from Robert Fulton include a discussion of steamboat theory and operations, engine patents, navigation on the Mississippi River, cost estimates, projected profits, legal problems, and other aspects of their joint steamboat business venture; letters by Robert R. Livingston concerning war, property taxes, conditions in Europe, legal questions, and sheep raising, 1775-1781; manuscript copies of Robert R. Livingston's letters to William Wilson concerning travel to Paris, business arrangements, New Orleans, and the peace treaty, 1801-1815; and his will, 1796.
Papers: In the Margaret Beekman Livingston Papers, 1775-1796, 6 items. The papers include letters from Margaret Beekman Livingston to her sons Robert R. and John R. Livingston concerning family health, planting, property, and politics, 1775 and undated; letter to Gov. Clinton concerning military exemptions for her workmen, 1778; and her will, 1796.

Connecticut Historical Society

Hartford, CT
Papers: 1812, 21 pages. A brief, (and incomplete draft) stating the case against the Fulton-Livingston steamboat monopoly. The wording of the incomplete draft is similar, but not identical, to the final form.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Hyde Park, NY
Microfilm: In the Aldrich Family Papers, 1770-1895, 1 microfilm reel. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.

Georgia Historical Society

Savannah, GA
Papers: In the Nathan Brownson Papers, 1781-1785, 2 items. The papers include a letter to Nathan Brownson from Robert L. Livingston. The letter is dated November 12, 1781 and its gives directions for determining war damage in Savannah, Georgia as ordered by Congress.

Hagley Museum and Library
Manuscripts and Archives Department

Greenville, DE
Papers: In the Eleuthère Irénée Du Pont Papers, ca. 1782-1838, 1.7 linear feet. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours Correspondence, 1787-1817, 133 items. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Du Pont, Bauduy & Company Records, 1809-1815, 0.25 linear foot. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Microfilm: In the Stevens Family Papers, 1669-1959, 16 microfilm reels. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Microfilm: In the United States District Court (New York: Southern District) Equity Dockets and Case Files, 1791-1846, 23 microfilm reels. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.

Huguenot-Thomas Paine Historical Association

Rochelle, NY
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Documents Collection, 1670-1935, approximately 1 cubic foot. The papers include a draft of a letter from Robert R. Livingston to George Washington concerning affairs of the Committee of Safety, ca. 1776.

James Monroe Museum & Memorial Library

Fredericksburg, VA
Papers: In the Papers of James Monroe as Minister to France, 1785-1831, 95 items. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Papers of James Monroe Relating to the Louisiana Purchase, 1802-1811, 8 items. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Microfilm: 1658-1888, 18 microfilm reels. The original papers are located at The New-York Historical Society.
Papers: In the Causten-Pickett Papers, 1765-1916, 45 linear feet. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Livingston Family Papers, 1634-1909, 0.3 linear foot. Persons represented include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the William Vans Murray Papers, ca. 1778-1805, 1 linear foot. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: In the De Windt Family Papers, 1779-1841, 1 volume. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Huntington-Wolcott Papers, ca. 1698-1911, 3 boxes, 2 volumes, and 2 folders. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Anna G. De Neufville Evans, 1782-1874, 1 folder. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Speeches at a Meeting with the Sachems of the Six Nations, 1775, 2 folders. Other authors include Robert R. Livingston.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1788, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to the Honorable Thomas Jefferson written on March 3, 1788.
Papers: 1804, 1 item. A letter from François Barbé-Marbois to Robert R. Livingston written on June 30, 1804. The letter concerns the debt owed by the United States to France.

The New York Public Library
Manuscripts & Archives Section

New York, NY
Papers: In the Robert Fulton Papers, 1790-1813, 1.8 linear feet. Other authors include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the Livingston Family Papers, 1682-1934, 1.2 linear feet. Other authors include Robert R. Livingston. A finding aid is available in the repository.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections

Albany, NY
Papers: n.d., 4 pages. An order from the Virginia General Assembly granting Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton the exclusive right to operate a steamboat line on the James River for twenty years.
Papers: 1783, 1 page. A receipt from Robert R. Livingston to James Cockburn for ninety dollars and forty crowns dated November 7, 1783.
Papers: 1788, 3 pages. A letter from Peter Van Schaak to Robert R. Livingston written on March 19, 1788. In the letter, Peter Van Schaak discusses county politics and discusses several county men and their political activities.
Papers: 1802, 4 pages. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to Gilbert Livingston writeen in 1802. In the letter, Robert R. Livingston discusses a boat he had seen in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Robert R. Livingston provides a detailed description of the construction of the boat and its operation, so that Gilbert Livingston may have one built in the United States.
Papers: 1804, 3 pages. A letter from James Madison to Robert R. Livingston written on July 7, 1804. In the letter, James Madison writes to discuss the disposition of some correspondence between Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe. He also mentions the slow movement of Congress, especially on a bill to provide government for the Louisiana Territory.
Papers: 1807, 1 page. A letter from Simeon DeWitt to Robert R. Livingston written on November 5, 1807. In the letter, Simeon DeWitt writes to Robert R. Livingston regarding the publication of the "Transactions" of a society of which both men were members. Simeon DeWitt complains that the volumes are small and that more material from foreign publications should be included. The society's name is not mentioned, but it may be the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts or the American Philosophical Society.
Papers: In the Nicholas Low Papers, 1785-1814, 30 items. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.
Papers: In the James Madison Collection, 1781-1833, 9 items. The collection includes a letter of March 28, 1804 addressed to Robert R. Livingston, concerning the seizure of American whaling vessels.
Papers: In the Melancton Smith Papers, 1786-1792, 1 box. Subject include Robert R. Livingston.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A letter from Marquis de Lafayette to Robert R. Livingston written on March 2, 1783. In the letter, the Marquis de Lafayette writes concerning preliminary negotiations with the Conde de Floridablanca for a treaty between the United States and Spain.
Papers: 1785, 1 item. A letter from Morgan Lewis to Robert R. Livingston written on May 9, 1785. In the letter, Morgan Lewis writes concerning a notice that the board of commissioners for hearing and determining claims to lands under Indian titles will decide the claim of Charles John Evans.
Papers: 1801, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to Ephraim Kirby written on May 5, 1801. In the letter, Robert R. Livingston writes concerning the Jeffersonian victories in the elections of 1801 and Connecticut's conservatism.

Senate House State Historic Site

Kingston, NY
Papers: In the DeWitt Family Papers, ca. 1705-1952, 3 cubic feet. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.

Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art

Washington, DC
Papers: In the Benjamin West Collection, 1771-1825, 20 items. The papers include a letter from Benjamin West to the U.S. Minister in Paris, Robert R. Livingston, written in June 1804, regarding Benjamin West's medal and diploma from the "Department of the Fine Arts in the National Institute" and the whereabouts of some letters Benjamin West sent to the "central Musuem of arts Paris."

Stanford University
Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries

Stanford, CA
Papers: In the Washington Irving Collection, ca. 1683-1839, amount unknown. Subjects include Robert R. Livingston.

University of Chicago Library
Butler-Gunsaulus Collection

Chicago, IL
Papers: 1805, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to [François Barbé-] Marbois written on December 16, 1805. In the letter, Robert R. Livingston writes about his concerns over the preservation of peace in Europe and about acts of aggression against American vessels by Spanish, French, and English privateers. He also informs [François Barbé-] Marbois that he has sent him a collection of American plants suitable to the French climate.

University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the Joseph Priestley Correspondence and Memoirs, 1696-1803, 106 items. Correspondents include Robert R. Livingston.

University of Pennsylvania
Special Collections, Van Pelt Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1788, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to Samuel Powel written in 1788. Robert R. Livingston writes a letter on the control of the Hessian fly and damage done to the wheat crop.

University of Virginia
The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 1776, 2 items. A letter from William Hooper to Robert R. Livingston written on September 25, 1776. In the letter, William Hooper reports that Congress is anxiously waiting for news from New York and the meeting between the armies of Howe and Washington, the British eager to recover from the disgrace of their retreat from Boston and the Americans "ill-formed, ill-cloathed" and inexperienced. William Hooper continues that Congress has been alarmed by accounts of the New York City fire [of September 21], which some attribute to accident, some General Howe's orders and others to the Hessians. He announces that Congress has ordered 88 Regiments to be raised for the duration of the war which he hopes will end the reliance on militia caused by short enlistment periods. William Hooper concludes with the news that [Charles] Lee is returning from his southern campaign and will join Washington as "the weight of commanding the American Army is too great for any one man ..."
Papers: 1811, 3 pages. A letter from George Washington Parke Custis to Robert R. Livingston written on May 12, 1811. In the letter, George Custis discusses mainly agricultural issues, particularly sheep breeding and the price of wool. He also discusses the wine--this "native beverage"--which he has shipped to Robert R. Livingston. Comparing the wine to "at least the delightful flavor of patriotism," George Custis ends on a patriotic note, saying, "The Republic must be great and free, the country of Washington must be immortal."
Papers: In the Madison Family Papers, 1768-1866, 153 items. Other authors include Robert R. Livingston.

Yale University
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

New Haven, CT
Papers: 1803, 1 page. A letter from James Monroe to Robert R. Livingston written on June 4, 1803. In the letter, James Monroe writes about relations with Spain and information to be sent to Mr. Pinckney, American Minister to Spain.
Papers: 1803, 1 page. A letter from François Barbé-Marbois to Robert R. Livingston written on December 5, 1803. The letter deals with the payment for Louisiana under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Papers: 1803, 1 item. A letter from Robert R. Livingston to William MacClure, I. C. Barnet and J. Mercer of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris and their nomination as commissioners to provide for payment of the debts due the United States by France. The letter was written on December 23, 1803.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Dangerfield, George. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746-1813. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1960.

Delafield, Joseph Livingston. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York and His Family. Albany: N.p., 1911.

Furgang, Kathy. The Declaration of Independence and Robert R. Livingston of New York. New York: Powerkids Press, 2002.

Livingston, Robert R. Essay on Sheep: Their Varieties, Account of the Merinoes of Spain, France, & Reflections on the Best Method of Treating Them, and Raising a Flock in the United States: Together with Miscellaneous Remarks on Sheep, and Woollen Manufactures. New York: Printed by T. and J. Swords, 1809. Reprint, Concord, N.H.: Daniel Cooledge, 1813.

___. Examination of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between the United States and Great Britain, in Several Numbers, by Cato. [New York]: Re-published, from the Argus, by Thomas Greenleaf, 1795.

___. The Invention of the Steamboat. An Historical Account of the Application of Steam for the Propelling of Boats; A Letter from Chancellor Livingston to the Editors of the "American Medical and Philosophical Register," Published in the Journal in January, 1812 (vol. ii. p. 256). [Boston, MA: Directors of the Old South Work, 1902].

___. The Original Letters of Robert R. Livingston, 1801-1803, Written During His Negotiations of the Purchase of Louisiana. To which is prefixed: "A brief history of the Louisiana Purchase from original documents" by Edward Alexander Parsons. New Orleans, LA: Louisiana Historical Society, 1953.

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