Philip Livingston was a successful merchant from Albany, New York. He is a Founding Father because he signed the Declaration of Independence and participated in key events that shaped the American Revolution, including the Stamp Act Congress, First Continental Congress, and Second Continental Congress.
- Livingston was born on January 15, 1716, in Albany, New York.
- His father was Philip Livingston and his mother was Catharine Van Brugh.
- His maternal grandfather was Captain Peter Van Brugh, a mayor of Albany.
- The Livingston family was wealthy and prominent in Albany and owned a large property that was called Livingston Manor.
- His cousin, Robert “The Judge” Livingston, attended the Stamp Act Congress and served as a judge on the New York Supreme Court.
- In 1737, Livingston graduated from Yale.
- On April 14, 1740, Livingston married Christina Ten Broeck. They had nine children together.
- Christina’s great grandfather was Dirck Ten Broeck, who emigrated to Albany in 1662 and served as mayor of Albany from 1696 to 1698.
- Livingston’s youngest son, Henry Philip Livingston, was a Captain in the guard of General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.
- Livingston was a prominent merchant, involved in the import business.
- In 1754, he was elected an alderman of New York City.
- In 1759, he was elected to the New York House of Representatives.
- In 1765, he represented New York at the Stamp Act Congress.
- In 1768, he was elected to the New York Provincial Assembly to represent Livingston Manor, but he was rejected by the Assembly because he did not actually live at Livingston Manor.
Delegate to Stamp Act Congress
On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.
In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.
On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.
Nine of the 13 colonies, including New York, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Livingston was elected as a delegate from New York, along with William Bayard, Sr., John Cruger, Jr., Robert “The Judge” Livingston, and Leonard Lispenard.
The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.
Livingston voted in favor of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, however, the delegates from New York were not authorized to sign their names to the official documents of the Stamp Act Congress.
On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.
On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”
First Continental Congress
- In 1774, Livingston was a member of New York’s Committee of Fifty-One, which was responsible for selecting New York’s delegates to the First Continental Congress.
- He was one of the five delegates that were selected.
Olive Branch Petition
- Livingston signed the Olive Branch Petition, which was sent to King George III by the First Continental Congress.
New York Provincial Congress
- When New York established a rebel government in 1775, Livingston became the President of the Provincial Convention and a delegate to the Continental Congress.
Second Continental Congress
- In 1776, Livingston was elected to the Second Continental Congress. He served in Congress until 1778.
Declaration of Independence
- Livingston signed the Declaration of Independence.
- The other Dutch American that signed the Declaration was Lewis Morris.
New York Senate
- In 1777, Livingston was elected to the first New York State Senate..
- Livingston was one of the founders of King’s College (Columbia).
- Livingston died on June 12, 1778, at the age of 62.
- The members of the Second Continental Congress attended his funeral.
- He was buried in a tomb in Prospect Hill Cemetery, in York, Pennsylvania.
Philip Livingston is important because he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was also a delegate from New York to the Stamp Act Congress, First Continental Congress, and Second Continental Congress.
Philip Livingston is considered a Founding Father because he signed the Declaration of Independence and because he contributed to the Stamp Act Congress, First Continental Congress, and Second Continental Congress.