Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Judge Robert Livingston and Margaret Beekman Livingston's Prodigious and Proficient Progeny


Sometimes its amazing to sit back and look at the Revolutionary generation of Clermont Livingstons, the children of Judge Robert Livingston and Margaret Beekman Livingston. Not only did ten of their eleven children live to adulthood but that all of those children took part in more than seventy years of American history.
At least my name is in "Hamilton"

Janet as drawn by her niece when she was quite old
The oldest child of the Judge and Margaret was Janet. She was briefly married to the reputedly dashing General Richard Montgomery
That's going to be a hard no.
before a blast of grapeshot at Quebec ended their wedded bliss. She remained unmarried for the rest of her life, turning down several offers including one from the "hero of Saratoga" Horatio Gates. This often leads to her being depicted as a grieving widow for the rest of her life. In fact she was a savvy businesswoman who earned enough money to build Montgomery Place in memory of Richard and lead a very comfortable life which included a great deal of reading.

The next oldest was Robert.To summarize his career;briefly; Continental Congress, Address to the People of Great Britain, Declaration of Independence, New York State Constitution, Chancellor, Secretary for Foreign Affairs , George Washington's Oath of Office , Minister to France, Louisiana Purchase, steamboats, merino sheep and on and on and on. You can read more about his career here, here, here, here, and here.

After the Chancellor came Margaret. She married Thomas Tillotson, one of the most boring men in history, But under her tutelage he served as an assemblyman, state senator and Secretary of State for New York. This allowed Margaret to play hostess to the elite of New York's politics.

Henry Beekman Livingston's career as a military officer and hero of the Revolution has been well documented here, here, here, and here. The Battle of Long Island, The Battle of Saratoga, The Battle of Monmouth, Rhode Island and Valley Forge. A man who rubbed shoulders with the Marquis de Laffayette,

                       The Baron von Steuben,

                                                                                                                          George Washington

                                                                 and George Clinton.

"I don't think that's the right George Clinton"
Catherine Livingston Garretson
*Probably not a real quote
Catherine Livingston married the Reverend Freeborn Garretson after waiting out her mother, who was unhappy with the idea of her marrying a Methodist, for years. Catherine and Freeborn set about spreading Methodism throughout America. Catherine frequently hosted missionaries before they headed off to spread their message and frequently corresponding with them, giving them the courage to continue their missions.

I did nothing wrong-John Livingston 
The next son was John Livingston. John was mainly a simple business man. He had supplied the Continental Army during the Revolution. He spent most of the war in Boston where he could over see shipments coming in and going out. After the war he developed a rather interesting business strategy you can read about here. (warning not for the faint of heart) It earned him the nickname "The Lord of Vice".

You might say I Burrn'd him- Morgan Lewis
Gertrude Livingston married Morgan Lewis in 1779. He was a general in the army and the son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, With her and her family's help Morgan served in the assembly, state Senate, as New York Attorney General, and Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court. Gertrude would have reached her peak when she was first lady of New York state when Morgan Lewis defeated Aaron Burr for the governorship in 1804. Gertrude and Morgan's country house has been remodeled and added onto to become Mills Mansion in Staatsburg.

Joanna Livingston married a distant cousin, Peter Robert Livingston. She too was a force in Albany society wen her husband served in the Senate and the Assembly.

The youngest daughter of the family Alida Livingston
 married General John Armstrong of Pennsylvania. She travelled to France with him when he replaced her brother Robert as Minister to Napoleon's Court. She was a member of Washington D.C. society when John was a senator from New York. John would also serve as Secretary of War during the War of 1812. He and Alida had to flee the city when the British came to burn it in 1814. Unsurprisingly this marked the end of his career as Secretary.

Finally we come to the baby of the family. Edward Livingston. Edward had his own adventures during the War of 1812 (look here). Held several government positions from and in both New York and Louisiana and even found himself a member of Andrew Jackson's administration.

From the birth of the nation to the end of the middle of the nineteenth century the children of The Judge and Margaret Beekman Livingston had their hands in state and national politics. It is simply astounding that this much talent could find itself focused on one family at one time.

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