Robert R. Livingston

Robert R. Livingston was an American lawyer and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was one of the five members of the Committee of Five which wrote down the famous Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Early Life

Robert R. Livingston was born in New York City in 1746. His father was quite rich, so he gained proper formal education from a young age. At the age of 15, he took admission at King’s College and graduated in 1764, at the age of 18.

Soon after graduation, he started practising law and became a well-reputed lawyer. Even before the American Revolutionary War had begun, Livingston actively supported the idea that American colonies should be free from British rule.

During the American Revolution

In 1775, war broke out between the 13 American colonies and Britain. The colonies wanted to be free of British rule while Britain wanted to continue its rule in the colonies.

By 1776, the colonies had a proper parliament of their own which was called the Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress convened in 1776 in which representatives from all American colonies, now called American states, arrived.

Robert Livingston was elected as the member from New York and he represented the state in the Congress. As a member of the Congress, Robert Livingston was chosen as one of the five members of the Committee of Five.

This committee drafted the famous Declaration of Independence in which American colonies officially declared independence from Britain.

The Chancellor of New York

In 1777, the Revolutionary War was still going on. Although Britain was still fighting, British rule in the colonies had ended. So each state now had to create its own laws and rules to govern properly.

Since Robert Livingston belonged to New York, he helped in creating the new constitution of New York. The same year, he was chosen to the seat of ‘Chancellor of New York’.

This was the highest judicial office in New York at the time and Robert Livingston remained at this position for 25 years. Due to this, he was often called simply ‘The Chancellor’.

Serving the government of USA

In 1781, Robert Livingston was chosen to the position of the U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He remained in this position until 1783. While in this position, he realised that the central government of the newly-born USA was weak.

So when a new constitution was drafted in 1788, he actively supported the idea that the federal government should be strong and should have many powers. In 1789, General George Washington was elected as the First President of the United States of America.

Robert Livingston, as the Chancellor of New York, administered the Presidential oath on April 30, 1789. He later supported Thomas Jefferson when Jefferson ran for presidency.

During Jefferson’s presidency, Robert Livingston was sent to France in order to negotiate the purchase of Louisiana Territory in 1804. The success of this purchase immediately doubled the size of USA. Livingston said, at the time, that he considered this purchase one of the biggest achievements of his life.