Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Page 4

Philip Livingston


   Among these individuals, none possessed a more patriotic spirit, or was more ready to rise in opposition to British aggressions, than Philip Livingston. The sentiments which he had avowed, and the distinguished part which he had all along taken, in favor of the rights of the colonies, marked him out as a proper person to represent the colony in the important congress of 1774. In the deliberations of this body he bore his proper share, and assisted in preparing an address to the people of Great Britain.

   Of the equally distinguished congress of 1776, Mr. Livingston was a member, and had the honor of giving his vote in favor of that declaration, which, while it was destined to perpetuate the memory of the illustrious men who adopted it, was to prove the charter of our national existence. In the following year, he was reelected to congress by the state convention, which, at this time, tendered to him and his colleagues an expression of public thanks, for the long and faithful services which they had rendered to the colony of the state of New-York.

   The constitution of the state of New-York was adopted at Kingston, on the twentieth of April, 1777. Under this constitution, Mr. Livingston, in May following, was chosen a senator for the southern district, and in that capacity attended the first meeting of the first legislature of the state of New-York.

   In October of the same year, an election took place for members of congress, under the new constitution. Among the number chosen, Mr. Livingston was one. On the 5th of May, 1778, he took his seat in that body. This was an eminently critical and gloomy period in the history of the revolution. The British had taken possession of Philadelphia, compelling congress to retire from that city. They had agreed to hold a session at York.

   At this time, the health of Mr. Livingston was exceedingly precarious. And such was the nature of his complaint, which was a dropsy in the chest, that no rational prospect existed of his recovery. Indeed, he was daily liable to be summoned from the active scenes of life, to his final account. Yet, in this dubious and anxious state, his love to his country continued strong and unwavering. For her good he had made many sacrifices; and, now that her interests seemed to require his presence in congress, he hesitated not to relinquish the comforts of home, and those attentions which, in his feeble and declining state, he peculiarly needed from a beloved family.

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Last modified January 2, 2004