Edward Livingston Papers, 1683-1877 1764-1836

Livingston, Edward, 1764-1836 [Browse]
  • Multiple languages
  • English
  • French
  • Russian
  • German
  • 178 boxes
  • 120 linear feet


Getty AAT genre
1683-1877 1764-1836
Restrictions note
Open for research use.
Summary note
  • The Edward Livingston Papers document the career of American lawyer, diplomat, statesman, and legal theorist Edward Livingston. The collection also contains domestic, financial, and property records of some three dozen others, mostly members of the Livingston/Beekman branch of the Hudson River Valley Livingstons and the Montgomery, Davezac, Barton, and Hunt families; the family surveyor/agent John Cox, Jr.; and an Albany-area merchant Benjamin French, whose forfeited estate ended up in Edward Livingston's hands for debt collection.
  • Edward Livingston, 1764-1836, a key figure in local, national, and world politics, is represented by correspondence, writings, property records, financial records, and other manuscript and printed items. In general, the arrangement of his papers is dictated by his varied career; however, a sizable correspondence series, spans most of his adult life. Livingston's correspondents comprise a veritable "who's who" of late 18th- and early 19th century politicians, statesmen, and jurists. The collection is especially strong in Livingston's work in the area of criminal jurisprudence. A special series on the subject contains correspondence with world-renowned legal theorists and jurists, topical writings and drafts, and a collection of works on such issues as penal reform and the abolition of capital punishment. There is also much documentary evidence of his role in the Jackson administration as a supporter in the Congress and Senate, and later as secretary of state and minister to France. A draft of the "Nullification Proclamation," written by Livingston for Jackson, is in the collection. The collection also contains many legal records relating to both his law practice and private affairs, including the 1803 "customs house funds scandal," his entanglement with General James Wilkinson over the Burr controversy, and the split with Thomas Jefferson over the New Orleans Batture. The women of the Livingston family - Margaret Beekman Livingston, 1724-1800 (Edward's mother); Janet Livingston Montgomery, 1743-1828 (Edward's sister); Louise D'Avezac Livingston, circa 1781-1860 (Mrs. Edward Livingston); and Coralie Livingston Barton, 1803-1873 (Edward and Louise's daughter) - are well represented in the collection. Margaret and Janet, both widowed in mid-life, became powerful landowners and matriarchs in the Hudson Valley, as well as central figures in society. Their land records, financial documents, and correspondence from the well-born and poor tenant alike are clear evidence of their stature. Mrs. Livingston, too, was a well-respected hostess in whose parlor intellectuals and political figures gathered. Coralie, once the belle of New Orleans, was devoted to her father, and remained interested in her father's work in criminal jurisprudence. Her efforts led to the re-issue of Edward Livingston's works in 1873, and it was she who augmented his collection of works on that subject after his death. There are small, but significant concentrations of records of relatives-by-marriage, such as brother-in-law Auguste Davezac, 1780-1851, diplomat to the Netherlands; Thomas Pennant Barton, 1803-1869, who joined father-in-law Edward Livingston on the mission to Paris as secretary to the legation; and General Richard Montgomery, 1738-1775, husband of Janet Livingston, whose letters on the fatal march to Quebec are a particular attraction of this collection. The collection contains a variety of ledgers and other financial records which span almost three centuries; account books, rent books, day books, receipts, and balance sheets abound. Many of these records relate to the Hudson Valley area, notably lands that were passed down from Henry Beekman, 1688-1776, to Margaret Beekman Livingston, and later to Janet Montgomery. The records of agent/surveyor John Cox, Jr., 1756-1825, are especially interesting for their insight into the life of the laboring class of the young republic. Cox worked for many of the Livingstons, surveying their properties, drawing up deeds, leases, and rent agreements, and corresponding with tenants. His work shows up throughout the papers of his employers as well-especially in their financial and real estate records. The written and limned evidence of Cox's career, coupled with surviving personal records and family correspondence, present a well-rounded picture of a faithful employee and Colonial American "everyman" bent on self-improvement. Like Cox, the papers of Benjamin French are in contrast to the rest of the collection. Their presence here is owed to a twist of fate; French's estate was forfeited to the State of New York for suspected loyalism to the crown during the Revolution, passed through several different hands, and finally settled with Edward Livingston, who attempted to collect the outstanding debts due the late merchant. These records provide insight into Albany-area business in the years preceding and encompassing the start of the American Revolution. Divided into series relating to claims of his estate and a general file of business records (receipts, balance sheets, promissory notes, orders, and correspondence), these documents paint an interesting picture of Hudson River Valley trade at the onset of the Revolutionary struggle. Note that most, if not all, of the creators documented in this collection are also represented in Series 17: Papers Related to Landholdings.
Statement on language in description
Princeton University Library aims to describe library materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. Read more...
Other views
Staff view

Supplementary Information