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Robert Livingston (1746-1813)

From Academic Kids

Robert R. Livingston (November 27, 1746February 26, 1813), of New York, was a delegate to the New York state constitutional convention and a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, although he was recalled by his state before he could sign it. Livingston served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1781 to 1783, under the Articles of Confederation. As the chief judge of New York state, he administered the oath of office to George Washington at his first innaugural in 1789, since there was not yet a Supreme Court. He was a candidate for governor of New York in 1798, was U.S. Minister to France from 1801 to 1804, and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.

Of his many political duties, the position of Chancellor was one whose title followed Livingston throughout his life. It was during his time as Minister to France that the Chancellor met Robert Fulton, with whom he developed the first viable steamboat, whose home port was the Livingston home at Clermont, NY. The first steamboat voyage went from New York City to Albany up the Hudson River in just under 24 hours, a journey which had previously taken nearly a week by sloop.

Robert R. Livingston was the eldest son of Judge Robert R. Livingston and Margaret Beekman Livingston. He had nine brothers and sisters, all of whom wed and made their homes on the Hudson River near the family seat of Clermont. The Chancellor built a home for himself and wife Mary Stevens Livingston just south of Clermont, called Belvedere, which was burned to the ground along with Clermont in 1777 by the British Army. In 1794 he built a new home, called New Clermont but subsequently named Arryl House (phonetic spelling of his initials "RRL") which was deemed "the most commodius home in America" and contained a library of 4,000 volumes, and after his trip to France, an orangerie.

Livingston County, Kentucky, Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and Livingston County, New York are named for him.


Preceded by:
(none)
United States Secretary for Foreign Affairs
October 20, 1781June 4, 1783
Succeeded by:
John Jay

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