LIVINGSTON, PHILIP. (1716–1778). Signer. New York. Born in Albany, New York, on 15 January 1716, Philip Livingston graduated from Yale in 1737 and became an importer in New York City. He grew wealthy from trade and as a privateer during the wars against the French and entered enthusiastically into the civic life of the city. He contributed to the establishment of Columbia (then King's College) and gave a chair of divinity at Yale. He helped organize the New York Society Library in 1754, and also participated in founding the St. Andrew's Society, the New York Chamber of Commerce, and the New York Hospital. He was elected a city alderman and served from 1754 to 1763. He was also elected to the provincial assembly, serving from 1758 to 1769, serving as speaker of the assembly during the last two years of his tenure.
An early opponent of British policies toward the colonies, he wrote the assembly's petition opposing imperial taxes in 1764 and was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. A moderate Whig, he disapproved of the rioting attributed to the Sons of Liberty. He was defeated for re-election in 1769. He opposed the Intolerable Acts and sat in the Continental Congress from September 1774 until his death on 12 June 1778 in York, Pennsylvania. He was an active member of the Secret Committee that sought to arm the American forces, as well as the Marine Committee and the Committee on Provisioning. Though not present for the debates on the Declaration of Independence, he signed it in August 1776. John Adams describes him as a conservative, saying "[he] is a great, rough rapid mortal. There is no holding any conversation with him. He blusters away; says if England should turn us adrift, we should instantly go to civil wars among ourselves."
Kierner, Cynthia A. Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York, 1675–1790. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992.
Philip Livingston's Papers. New York: New York Public Library.
revised by Michael Bellesiles