LIVINGSTON, William

1723–1790

Biography

LIVINGSTON, William, (brother of Philip Livingston and cousin of Edward Livingston and Robert R. Livingston), a Delegate from New Jersey; born in Albany, N.Y., November 30, 1723; was graduated from Yale College in 1741; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1748 and commenced practice in New York; established and edited the Independent Reflector in 1752; a commissioner to adjust the boundary lines between New York and Massachusetts in 1754 and New York and New Jersey in 1764; member of the provincial assembly from Livingston Manor 1759-1761; moved to Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), N.J., in 1772; Member of the Continental Congress from July 23, 1774, to June 22, 1776; commissioned a brigadier general of the New Jersey Militia on October 28, 1775, and served until August 31, 1776, having been elected Governor; served consecutively as Governor of New Jersey from August 31, 1776, until his death; delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and one of the signers of the Constitution; died in Elizabeth, Union County, N.J., July 25, 1790; interment in the family vault in Trinity Churchyard, New York City; reinterred, 1846, in Brockholst Livingston vault, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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

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External Research Collections

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Microfilm: 1695-1822, 13 microfilm reels. The collection of William Livingston contains correspondence, letter books, journals, accounts, indentures, and other papers, of William Livingston, his family, and others. Other items include material collected by Theodore Sedgewick, Jr.
Papers: In the Sedgwick Family Papers II, 1668-1919, 9 boxes and 1 oversize box. Persons represented include William Livingston.

American Jewish Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: In the Gomez Family Papers, ca. 1688-1905, 1.5 linear feet. Correspondents include William Livingston.

American Philosophical Society Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the Bache Family Papers, ca. 1770-1890, approximately 50 items. Subjects include William Livingston.
Papers: In the Frederick Smyth Papers, 1756-1816, 56 items. Subjects include William Livingston.

Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library

New York, NY
Papers: In the John Jay Papers, ca. 1668-1862, 35 linear feet. Correspondents include William Livingston.

Cornell University Library
Department of Rare Books

Ithaca, NY
Papers: In Washington Irving's "Life of George Washington," Volume V, Miscellany, 1764-1792, 79 items. Subjects include William Livingston.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1776-1781, 16 items. The papers are also accessible on microfilm. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Livingston Family Ppers, 1634-1909, 57 items. Persons represented include William Livingston.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A letter from William Livingston to Noah Webster written on December 1, 1783. In the letter, William Livingston writes that the New Jersey Legislature has passed a copyright law.

New Jersey Historical Society

Newark, NJ
Papers: In the Anderson Family Papers, 1762-1950, 9 linear feet. Correspondents include William Livingston.
Papers: In the Edwin A. Ely Autograph Collection, ca. 1663-1890, 250 items. Persons represented include William Livingston.
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Manuscripts, 1664-1956, 10 feet. Correspondents include William Livingston.

The New York Public Library
Rare Books & Manuscripts Division

New York, NY
Papers: 1749-1782, 3 linear feet. The William Livingston collection consists of correspondence and other papers. Correspondence, 1775-1782, includes incoming letters and documents from constituents, colleagues, and political and social figures; William Livingston's letters to the New Jersey Gazette on events of the American Revolution; and letterbooks kept by William Livingston as governor of New Jersey containing drafts of official letters, family letters, messages to the New Jersey Assembly, and narrative of the war by Jonathan Trumbull. Also included are cost books of cases, 1749-1772, in which William Livingston acted as counsel before the Supreme Court of New York. The collection is also accessible on microfilm. A finding aid is available in the repository.
Papers: In the William Smith Papers, ca. 1631-1883, 4 linear feet. Subjects include William Livingston.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections

Albany, NY
Papers: 1770, 2 pages. A bond, from April 1770, between Henry Cuyler and William Livingston for "five hundred pounds current money of the province of New York."
Papers: 1771, 1 page. A bond dated September 19, 1771, between Samuel Gouverneur and William Livingston for the "sum of six-hundred pounds of current money of the Province of New York." Also includes receipt of Robert Johnston for the account of Samuel Gouverneur for a mortgage.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1777, 2 pages. A letter from Francis Hopkinson to Governor William Livingston written on March 28, 1777. In the letter, Francis Hopkinson requests the arrest of John Curtis in connection with a treasonous plot to convey the packet Bristol to Lord Howe.
Papers: 1781, 1 item. A letter from William Livingston to Joseph Reed written on September 14, 1781. In the letter, William Livingston thanks Joseph Reed, the president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, for assistance in procuring ammunition for the Board of War, and reports the burning of New London, Connecticut, by the British under Benedict Arnold.
Papers: 1787, 1 item. A letter written by William Livingston on August 31, 1787 appointing Elias Dayton to be executor of the estate of his father Jonathan Dayton.
Papers: 1831, 1 item. A letter from James Madison to Theodore Sedgwick written on February 12, 1831. In the letter, James Madison writes concerning the part played by William Livingston of New Jersey in the federal Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Rutgers University
Special Collections and Archives

New Brunswick, NJ
Papers: 1686-1839, 1 envelope and 13 microfilm reels. The papers of William Livingston include correspondence, letter books, journals, accounts, indentures, and other papers, of William Livingston, his family, and others. The papers also include material collected by Theodore Sedgewick, Jr. The collection is, in part, microfilm made from originals in the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston).
Papers: In the Allinson Family Papers, ca. 1761-1909, approximately 0.75 cubic foot. Correspondents include William Livingston.
Papers: In the William Paterson Papers, 1766-1798, approximately 1.4 cubic feet. Correspondents include William Livingston.

Stanford University Libraries
Department of Special Collections

Stanford, CA
Papers: 1776, 1 item. A letter from William Livingston to Samuel Tucker written on June 29, 1776. In the letter, William Livingston writes five days before the Declaration of Independence, the letter mentions George Washington and the necessity of securing provisions for the soldiers.

University of Virginia
The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A letter from John Swanwick to William Livingston written on July 18, 1782. In the letter, John Swanwick answers a letter of thanks from William Livingston, stating he was happy to perform a service for the Livingston family by shipping some articles.

Yale University Library
Microform Reference

New Haven, CT
Microfilm: ca. 1695-1822, 13 microfilm reels. The papers consist of correspondence and other papers of William Livingston, lawyer, member of the Continental Congress, Revolutionary War officer, and governor of New Jersey. The original papers are in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
Papers: In the Morse Family Papers, 1779-1868, 8 linear feet. Subjects include William Livingston.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Carney, Thomas Edward. "A Religious Conflict in Education: The King's College Controversy as a Historical Precedent to Separation of Church and State, 1752-1756." Ph.D. diss., 2001.

Dillon, Dorothy Rita. The New York Triumvirate; A Study of the Legal and Political Careers of William Livingston, John Morin Scott, William Smith, Jr. 1949. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, [1968].

Klein, Milton M. (Milton Martin). The American Whig: William Livingston of New York. 1990. Reprint, New York: Garland Publishers, 1993.

Levine, Michael Lewis. "The Transformation of a Radical Whig Under Republican Government: William Livingston, Governor of New Jersey, 1776-1790." Ph.D. diss., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, 1975.

Livingston, William. A Funeral Eloguim on the Reverend Mr. Aaron Burr, Late President of the College of New Jersey. New-York, printed; Boston: Reprinted by Green and Russell... for J. Winter..., 1758.

------. Israel Putnam; Pioneer, Ranger, and Major-General, 1718-1790. New York, London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1901.

------. The Papers of William Livingston. Carl E. Prince, editor; Dennis P. Ryan, associate editor; Pamela B. Schafler and Donald W. White, assistant editors. Trenton: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1979-1988.

------. Philosophic Solitude, or, The Choice of a Rural Life: A Poem, by a gentleman educated at Yale College. 1762. Reprint, New-York: Printed by John Holt..., [1769].

------. A Review of the Military Operations in North-America, From the Commencement of the French Hostilities on the Frontiers of Virginia in 1753, to the Surrender of Oswego, on the 14th of August, 1756. Interspersed with Various Observations, Characters, and Anecdotes; Necessary to Give Light into the Conduct of American Transactions in General; and More Especially into the Political Management of Affairs in New York. In a letter to a nobleman. London: Printed, for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall. 1757. Reprint, New-England: N.p., 1758.

------. Unpublished Correspondence of William Livingston and John Jay; Introduction and notes, by Frank Monaghan. Newark, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Society, 1934.

Prince, Carl E. William Livingston, New Jersey's First Governor. Trenton: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1975.

Sedgwick, Theodore. A memoir of the life of William Livingston, Member of Congress in 1774, 1775, and 1776: Delegate to the federal convention in 1787, and governor of the state of New-Jersey from 1776 to 1790 ; With extracts from his correspondence, and notices of various members of his family. New-York: J. & J. Harper, 1833.

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