William Livingston

1723 – 1790

I was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a General of the New Jersey Militia, and the first Governor of New Jersey.

Before the American Revolution, I had spent about twenty years in New York city as a lawyer and a politician, and I’d written many satirical essays which often made people mad at me. In 1772, I moved to Elizabethtown, New Jersey where I built a large house that I named “Liberty Hall.”

In 1775, when I was in my fifties, I served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses. I also volunteered to lead the New Jersey militia, even though I had no military training. But that only lasted for a short while, because three months later I was elected by the New Jersey legislature to be the first Governor of New Jersey.

Leading a brand-new state that was still fighting for independence was extremely difficult and frustrating. I tried and failed to convince the legislature to improve the militia laws or to abolish slavery. I had some successes but was under constant threat of capture or assassination, so I had to move constantly while attending many meetings and writing 25 to 30 pieces of correspondence each day.

I served throughout the war and later was part of the convention that wrote the United States Constitution in 1787. I died while still in office as governor, in 1790.


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