Robert R. Livingston Is Born

November 27, 1746 marks the birth of Robert R. Livingston, jurist, statesman, and political leader of the Revolutionary period.

Livingston served on numerous committees in the Continental Congress, including the one that drafted the Declaration of Independence, helped draft New York's first constitution, and served as the minister to France at the time of the Louisiana Purchase.

Born into a wealthy and influential New York family, Livingston's great grandfather had purchased the Indian claims to large tracts of land along the Hudson River, eventually acquiring an estate of 160,000 acres. After studying at King's College—today known as Columbia University—Livingston formed a law partnership with another alumnus, John Jay, the eventual Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Soon after being appointed to a New York City judicial post by the British, Livingston was removed because of his support for independence for the American colonies.

Robert R. Livingston was the eldest son of Judge Robert Livingston (1718-1775) 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 at Clermont Manor. Livingston attended King's College, the predecessor to today's Columbia University.

He married Mary Stevens Livingston, daughter of Continental Congressman John Stevens, on 9 September 1770. He built a home for himself and his wife 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, which was subsequently renamed Arryl House (a phonetic spelling of his initials, "RRL") which was deemed "the most commodious home in America" and contained a library of four thousand volumes.