Robert R. Livingston is hardly a household name, even among American history buffs, but he played a prominent role in the beginnings of this country.
Born in 1746 to a wealthy New York family, he graduated from King's College (now Columbia University) as a lawyer in 1764.
Swept up in the furor of colonial independence, Livingston served as a representative from New York to the Continental Congress in 1776. He was one of five members on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. He served there with fellow members Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Roger Sherman. However, Livingston was called back to New York before he could sign the document.
In 1777 he helped draft the New York State Constitution. He would later become the state's chancellor, the highest ranking state officer. The name stuck with him, and throughout the rest of his life he was referred to as The Chancellor.
From 1781 to 1783 he served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, now known as Secretary of State.
Livingston was a proponent of a Federal Constitution and served as a New York delegate in 1788 at Poughkeepsie to ratify it.
On April 30, 1789, it was Robert Livingston who administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington.
Livingston's public service didn't end there. From 1801 - 1804 he was assigned by President Thomas Jefferson as the minister to France where he worked with James Monroe to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon.
In one more move to push this country forward, Livingston financially backed Robert Fulton ... who invented the steamboat.
For all these many accomplishments in his lifetime, a bust of Robert R.Livingston resided in the capitol building to this day. He passed away on Feb 26, 1813, 203 years ago.
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