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William Livingston - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019

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Birth: November 30, 1723
Death: July 25, 1790 (age 66)
Colony: New Jersey
Occupation: Lawyer, Soldier, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 65); and served as Governor of New Jersey (1776-1790)

William Livingston Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

William Livingston was born in New York, the son of the Mayor of Albany. Livingston was tutored in New York before he went to Yale College from which he graduated in 1741. He then moved to New York City and began practicing law. Livingston also became politically active during this time, and he was elected to the New York Assembly, serving therein until 1769. In 1772, Livingston moved to New Jersey where he became a leading Patriot activist.

In 1774, Livingston was voted to be one New Jersey's representatives to the First Continental Congress. The following year, Livingston was re-elected and served in the Second Continental Congress. However, because Livingston did not support Independence, he was recalled from his office and replaced in June of 1776, and thus he never signed The Declaration of Independence. After returning to New Jersey, Livingston enlisted in the New Jersey Militia and served as a Brigadier General until he was elected the Governor of New Jersey in 1776. Livingston served as Governor of New Jersey all the way through the American Revolution, and he did not leave office until 1790.

Livingston was named as a representative of New Jersey to serve as a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia during the Summer of 1787. At the Constitutional Convention, Livingston represented New Jersey, and he helped to debate, draft, and sign the Constitution of the United States.

After the ratification of the United States Constitution, Livingston returned to his job as Governor of New Jersey, and he held that job until his death in 1790.

William Livingston in Philadelphia

Livingston arrived in Philadelphia as a Delegate to the First Continental Congress which met at Carpenters' Hall in September 1774. Livingston returned the following year in 1775 as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Livingston worked at Independence Hall. Livingston again lived in Philadelphia when he helped to write the United States Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Convention, which met at Independence Hall in 1787. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Livingston for his role in the creation of the United States Constitution in the Signers' Hall exhibit of the National Constitution Center. Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Livingston who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Signers' Garden and Independence Hall are all visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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