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this end he embraced every opportunity, both in public and private life, to inculcate, by precept and example, those great principles of moral rectitude, inflexible virtue, purity of motive, and nobleness of action, that alone can permanently preserve a nation.
He cast a withering frown upon vice in all its borrowed and alluring forms, and exerted his strongest powers to arrest the bold career of crime and corruption. He was a terror to evil doers, and inspired confidence in those who did well. His administration was prosperous and enlightened, and when he closed his public duties, the bitterness of his political opponents was lost in the admiration of his patriotism, virtue, impartiality, consistency, and candour.
In 1808 he retired from the ponderous weight of public business, that he had so long and honourably borne. He had devoted a long life to the faithful service of his country, and was covered with laurels of imperishable fame. He stood approved at the bar of his own conscience, his country, and his God. He had acted well his part, and had contributed largely in raising the American character to a proud elevation among the nations of the earth. Thus highly stood Governor M.KEAN, when he bid a final adieu, a last farewell to the public arena, and retired to the peaceful city of Penn, to breathe his life out sweetly there. He outlived all the animosities that a faithful minister of the laws unavoidably creates for a time, and on the 24th of June, 1817, at his residence in Philadelphia, resigned his spirit to Him who gave it, and entered upon the untried scenes of a boundless eternity, to reap the rich reward of a life well spent.
His private character was beyond reproach, unsullied as the virgin sheet. His person was tall and erect, his countenance bold, intelligent, and commanding; his manners urbane, gentlemanly, and affable; his feelings noble, generous, and humane; and his conduct open, frank, and republican. He never shrunk from what he deemed duty, and was always actuated by a desire to promote the interest of the human family and the general good of mankind. He was a refined philanthropist, an acute philosopher, an enlightened statesman, an impartial judge, an able magistrate, and a truly great and good man.
Men often engage in transactions and designs, that produce results in direct opposition to those anticipated. Thus, religious persecution scattered the primitive christians into various parts of the earth, and, instead of annihilating the doctrines of the Cross, they were more widely spread and diffused through the world. For the enjoyment of the liberty of conscience, the emigrants to New England left their native homes; for the same reason, the Huguenots of France fled before the withering blasts of the revolution of the edict of Nantes in 1685, many of them settling in the city of New York. To the persecuted and oppressed, America was represented as a land of rest, and emigrants poured in upon our shores from France, Holland, Germany, England, Ireland, and Scotland; among whom were many eminent for piety, intelligence, and liberal principles. To the latter place, we trace the ancestor of the subject of this brief sketch. The great grandfather of Philip Livingston was an eminent divine in the church of Scotland, and, in 1663, emigrated to Rotterdam, a city of the Netherlands, in South Holland, where he died nine years
after. His son Robert emigrated to America, and obtained a grant for the manor along the Hudson river, which is remarkable for the beauty of its location and the richness of its soil.
He had three sons, Philip, the father of the present subject, Robert, grandfather of Chancellor Livingston, and Gilbert, the grandfather of the Rev. Dr. John H. Livingston, who stood high as a scholar and divine. The subject of this memoir was his fourth son, born at Albany, 15th of January, 1716.
Mr. Livingston was among the few, who, in those days, received a college education. After his preparatory studies, he entered Yale College, and graduated in 1737. In common with most of the descendants of that celebrated family, he was blessed with strong native talent, which he improved by an excellent education. With principles firmly based on religion and moral rectitude, he was eminently prepared to commence a career of usefulness. In those days of republican simplicity, graduates from college, instead of riding rough shod over those whose literary advantages
were less, believing themselves forever exonerated from the field, the shop, and the counting-house, thought it no disparagement to apply themselves to agricultural, mechanical, and commercial pursuits. Among them, we find Mr. Livingston extensively and successfully engaged in mercantile business, in the city of New York. Reposing full' confidence in his integrity, which was then a necessary passport to public favour, his fellow citizens elected him to the office of Alderman in 1754, in which he continued during nine successive years, contributing largely to the peace and prosperity of the city. În 1759, he was a member of the colonial assembly, which had important duties to perform; Great Britain being at war with France, which brought the colonists in contact with the Canadian French and Indians. Twenty-thousand men were to be raised by the colonists to guard the frontier settlements, and, if practicable, to carry the war into the territory of the enemy.
The province of New York furnished 2680 men, and 250,000 pounds, to aid in the proposed object.
Mr. Livingston took an active and judicious part in these deliberations, and also introduced laws for the advancement of commerce, agriculture, and various improvements; manifesting a sound judgment and liberal views. He was an active member of the committee on foreign relations, who wisely selected the celebrated Edmund Burke, to represent their interests in the British parliament. From the lucid communications of Mr. Livingston, that celebrated statesman and friend to America, was made thoroughly acquainted with the situation, feelings, and interests of the colonists.
After the dissolution of the general assembly by the decease of George II., Mr. Livingston was again elected in 1761, a member of the one under the new
dynasty. În 1764, he wrote an answer to the message of lieutenant governor Colden, pointing out, in respectful, but bold and convincing language, the oppressions and infringements of the British ministry upon the rights of the Americans.
He soon became a nucleus, around which a band of patriots gathered, and eventually formed-a nut too hard to be cracked by all the hammers of the crown. The consequence of the bold stand taken by many of the members, in defence of their dear bought privileges, was the sudden dissolution of the assembly by the governor, whenever he discovered a majority in favour of liberal principles.
In 1768, the assembly consisted of the brightest luminaries of talent then in the colony, who elevated Mr. Livingston to the honourable and distinguished station of Speaker. Discovering that a majority of the new assembly were unwilling to be slaves and tools, the governor, Sir Henry Moore, dissolved them, and ordered a new election. He succeeded in obtaining a majority of creatures like himself, but a sufficient number of whigs were elected to watch the interests of the people, and hold the minions of the crown in check and awe. Although Mr. Livingston, from disgust at the procedure of the governor and his adherents, had declined being a candidate in the city of New York, he was returned from the manor, and, on mature deliberation, took his seat as a member, although opposed, at first unsuccessfully, because he was not a resident of the district that elected him, in which predicament a large majority of the members were found involved: they therefore concluded not to run the risk of having their own glass houses broken, for the sake of demolishing that of Mr. Livingston. During this session, he offered a resolution setting forth the grievances of his countrymen, which gave great umbrage to the adherents of the
This determined them to expel him on the ground at first assumed, which was effected by a vote of 17 to 6; twenty-one of the twenty-four members being similarly situated, not residents of the districts they represented.
A wider field was now opened before him. He was elected to the first Congress at Philadelphia, and became a brilliant star in that en
lightened and patriotic body. He was one of the committee that prepared the spirited address to the British nation, that roused from their lethargy those whose attention had not been called to the all important subjects then in agitation, involving a nation's rights and a na
He was continued a member of Congress, and, when the grand birth day of our independence arrived, Mr. Livingston aided in the thrilling duties of the occasion, invoked the smiles of Heaven upon the new born infant, and gave the sanction of his name to the magna
charta that secured to it a towering majesty and grandeur before unknown.
He was also a member of the association that recommended and adopted a non-intercourse with the mother country; president of the provincial Congress assembled at New York, to devise measures for their protection, and was one of those who framed the Constitution of his native State, which was adopted in 1777. Under that he was chosen a Senator, and attended the first session of the legislature of the empire State. The same year he was elected to Congress, then in session at York, Pennsylvania, having retired before their conquering foe. Deeply afflicted with a hydro-thorax, (dropsy of the chest,) he felt that his mortal career was fast drawing to a close. It was in the Spring of 1778, when the dark mantle of gloom and misfortune hung over the bleeding colonies.
Under these circumstances, he was willing to devote his last expiring breath, as he had much of his estate, to the service of his beloved country. He addressed a valedictory letter to his friends at Albany, bade them a last farewell, urged them to remain firm in the cause of liberty, and trust in God for deliverance; clasped his lovely wife and children to his bosom, commended them to Heaven for protection, and looked upon them with a heart full of tenderness for the last time on this side of eternity. They were then at Kingston, where they had fled for safety and protection from a brutal soldiery.
On the 5th of May he took his seat in Congress, and, on the 12th of June, he yielded to the only monarch that could subdue his patriotic heart-relentless death. He was buried the same day under all the mournful honours due to his great worth and merit, deeply
, lamented by every friend to the American cause. Although he was deprived of the kind offices of his own family in his last moments, he had a friend who had been his stay and support in every hour of trial, and now smoothed the pillow of death. Religion had been his companion through life; in the hour of dissolution, it was his support; angels waited for the transit of his immortal soul; Heaven opened wide its gates to let the patriot in; the king of glory decked him with laurels of bliss; enrolled his name on the book of life; and crowned him with that peaceful rest which is the reward of a pure heart and a virtuous life.
His private character. was a continued eulogy upon virtue, philanthropy, benevolence, urbanity, integrity, nobleness, honesty, patriotism, consistency, and all the leading qualities that render man dignified on earth, and fit for Heaven.
The name of every patriot who aided in gaining the liberty we now so permanently enjoy, is remembered and repeated with veneration and respect. A particular regard is felt for those whose names are enrolled on that bold and noble production, the Declaration of Independence. Their names, with many others who espoused the cause of freedom, will glide down the stream of time on the gentle waves of admiration and gratitude, until merged in the ocean of eternity. This single act has placed them on the list of immortal fame.
Among them was GEORGE WYTHE, a native of Elizabeth city in Virginia, born in 1728, of respectable parents. His father was a thriving farmer, and his mother a woman of unusual worth, talents and learning. His school education was limited, and, like Washington, Lafayette, and a large proportion of great men, he was indebted to his mother for the most of his learning and the early impressions of noble and correct principles.
From her he acquired the Latin and Greek languages; by her he was led to the pure fountains of science, and to her he was indebted for the formation of his youthful mind.
Unfortunately for him death snatched away, nearly at the same time, both his parents, leaving him still in his minority without a hand to guide or a voice to warn him against the allurements of pleasure and the seductions of vice.
His father left him a fortune, which, by prudence and frugality, was sufficient to render his circumstances easy and comfortable. But like too many only sons, his father had not inured him to business habits; he was soon led astray—he was captivated by amusements and from that time until the age of thirty, his time was spent in pursuit of the phantoms of pleasurable diversions, and in idle company, neglecting both study and business.
Like the prodigal," he then came to himself-returned to the paths of virtue, studied the profession of the law, was admitted to the bar, and soon became one of its brightest luminaries-one of its most eminent members. During the remainder of his life, he pursued the paths of wisdom most scrupulously, and showed to his friends and the world that a young man, although led astray by the prowling wolves of vice, can burst the chains that bind him-redeem his character-correct his habits-and become a useful and virtuous member of society. So did George Wythe; go thou and do likewise. He felt most keenly, regretted most sincerely, but redeemed most nobly the misspent time of his younger days. If this should chance to meet the eyes
of under similar circumstances, let me say to him—imitate the striking example of George Wythe. Perhaps no man ever maintained the professional dignity of the bar better than him, or was more highly