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Page 2

Philip Livingston

1716-1778

   In 1759, Mr. Livingston was returned a member from the city of New-York to the general assembly of the colony, which was convened on the thirty-first of January of that year. This body consisted of twenty-seven members, representing a population of about one hundred thousand inhabitants, the number which the colony at that time contained.

   At this period, Great Britain was engaged in a war with France. A plan bad been formed for the reduction of Canada by the United Colonies. For this object, it was proposed to raise twenty thousand men. The quota of New-York was two thousand six hundred and eighty. This number the general assembly directed to be raised, and appropriated one hundred thousand pounds for the support of the troops, and ordered an advance of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds to the British commissariat, for the general objects of the expedition. Similar measures were adopted by the other colonies, which, together with the assistance of the mother country, led to the capture of several important posts in Canada; and, in the following year, to the subjugation of the whole territory to the British power.

   In this assembly, Mr. Livingston acted a distinguished part. His talents and education gave him influence, which was powerfully exerted in promoting the above important measures. He also suggested several plans, which were calculated to improve the condition of the colony, particularly in relation to agriculture and commerce. He was deeply impressed with the importance of giving to the productions of the country a high character in the markets abroad, and of increasing the facilities of communication with other countries. In respect to these and other subjects, he possessed a well informed mind, and was desirous of pursuing a most liberal policy.

   Previous to the revolution, it was usual for the respective colonies to have an agent in England, to manage their individual concerns with the British government. This agent was appointed by the popular branch of the colonial assemblies. In 1770, the agent of the colony of New-York dying, the celebrated Edmund Burke was chosen in his stead. Between this gentleman and a committee of the colonial assembly, a correspondence was maintained. As the agent of the colony, he received a salary of five hundred pounds. He represented the colony in England, and advocated her rights. Hence the office was one of great importance. Not less important were the duties of the committee of correspondence. Upon their representations, the agent depended for a knowledge of the state of the colony. Of this committee Mr. Livingston was a member. From his communications, and those of his colleagues, Mr. Burke doubtless obtained that information of the state of the colonies, which he sometimes brought forward, to the perfect surprise of the house of commons, and upon which he often founded arguments, and proposed measures, which were not to be resisted.

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Last modified January 2, 2004