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Philip Livingston


Philip Livingston was born at Albany, on the fifteenth of January, 1716. His ancestors were highly respectable, and for several generations the family have held a distinguished rank in New-York. His great grandfather, John Livingston, was a divine of some celebrity in the church of Scotland, from which country he removed to Rotterdam in the year 1663. In 1772, or about that time, his son Robert emigrated to America, and settled in the colony of New-York. He was fortunate in obtaining a grant of a tract of land in that colony, delightfully situated on the banks of the Hudson. This tract, since known as the Manor of Livingston, has been in possession of the family from that time to the present.

   Robert Livingston had three sons, Philip, Robert, and Gilbert. The first named of these, being the eldest, inherited the manor. The fourth son of this latter is the subject of the present memoir.

   The settlement of New-York, it is well known, was commenced by the Dutch. For many years scarcely any attention was paid by them to the subject of education. They had few schools, few academies, and, until the year 1754, no college in the territory. Such gentlemen as gave their sons a liberal education, sent them either to New-England, or to some foreign university. But the number of liberally educated men was extremely small. As late as 1746, their number did not exceed fifteen in the whole colony. The subject of this memoir, and his three brothers, were included in the number. The author is ignorant where the brothers of Mr. Livingston received their education, but he was himself graduated at Yale College, 1737.

   Soon after leaving college he settled in the city of New-York, where he became extensively engaged in commercial operations. Mercantile life was, at this time, the fashionable pursuit. Mr. Livingston followed it with great ardor; and, having the advantage of an excellent education, and being distinguished for a more than ordinary share of integrity and sagacity, he was prosperous in an eminent degree.

   In 1754, he was elected an alderman in the city of New-York. This was his first appearance in public life. The office was important and respectable. The population of the city was ten thousand eight hundred and eighty-one souls. Mr. Livingston continued to be elected to this office for nine successive years, by his fellow citizens, to whom he gave great satisfaction, by his faithful attention to their interests.

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Last modified January 2, 2004