The Livingston History Barn

The David Library of the American Revolution

The David Library of the American Revolution

On this date, June 11, in 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a draft proposal of a declaration of independence. The committee members were: Roger Sherman (Connecticut), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), Thomas Jefferson (Virginia), John Adams (Massachusetts) and Robert R. Livingston (New York).

On the last day of 1775 Brigadier General Richard Montgomery husband of Janet Livingston Montgomery and resident of Rhin...

On the last day of 1775 Brigadier General Richard Montgomery husband of Janet Livingston Montgomery and resident of Rhinebeck just south of present day Livingston, led the northern American army in a desperate attack on the fortified city of Quebec.With many of his men's enlistments due to expire at midnight Montgomery had no choice but to attack the city in a driving snow storm. As his leading men stopped to clear a road block to allow easier access for the men behind them, Montgomery spotted movement in a nearby blockhouse. Gathering a few officers who had already come through the road block Montgomery charged, hoping to prevent the defenders in the blockhouse from attacking his men. A canon barked from the blockhouse and Montgomery was struck by grapeshot, in the leg, groin and head. He died instantly. The attack faltered and Quebec never fell. Montgomery, a former British officer, was buried by the British defenders with full military honors. In 1818 his body was brought from Canada to New York City where it was reburied at St. Paul's Chapel under the memorial originally ordered for him by the Continental Congress shortly after his death, the first American monument.

Morris-Jumel Mansion
Morris-Jumel Mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion

Today, Smithsonian Magazine tells the story of MJM archivist Emilie Gruchow's remarkable discovery of Robert Livingston's 1775 open letter to the British people (in which Livingston, on behalf of the Continental Congress, sought an accommodation with the home country in the hopes of averting revolutionary war). Thought lost to history, the original manuscript happened to be in Morris-Jumel's archives, as Gruchow discovered while cataloging the Mansion's 18th- and 19th-century manuscripts. Once authenticated, the document was placed in the hands of Keno Auctions, which sold the 12-page letter for $912,500. A handsome sum, the money will go towards renovating and restoring the exterior and interior of Morris-Jumel, which, as you know, is 250 years old. Read all about Emilie's amazing discovery here:

Happy birthday Chancellor Robert Livingston, born this day in 1746.

Happy birthday Chancellor Robert Livingston, born this day in 1746.


Today we hold the people of France in our thoughts and we stand with them, our oldest allies.

"We pray God Great, faithful & beloved freind & Ally, to keep you in his holy protection. Done at Philadelphia the 22n. day of Novr in the year of our Lord 1781 & in the fifth year of our independence.
By the United States in Congress assembled. "

From a letter from the Continental Congress to France November 1781

Revolutionary War and Beyond

Revolutionary War and Beyond

On this day in history, November 13, 1775, American General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal without a fight. The Americans had decided to try to take British Quebec in the fall of 1775. This was the first military offensive of the new Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Their goal was to take Quebec and convince the French speaking citizens to join them in their rebellion against England.

General Guy Carleton was the Royal Governor of Quebec. Carleton had focused his efforts against Ethan Allen of Vermont, who tried to take Montreal in September. Carleton's distraction with Allen allowed General Montgomery to take Fort St. Jean, the main British defense post south of Montreal. The fort was surrendered to Montgomery on November 3.

Montgomery continued on to Montreal and Carleton, whose forces were depleted from the fight with Allen, fled north to Quebec City. This allowed Montgomery to march into Montreal without opposition. Montgomery left Brigadier General David Wooster in charge of Montreal and continued on to Quebec where he met with Colonel Benedict Arnold's battalions of New England militia. They had braved an arduous journey across the forests of Maine to meet Montgomery in December. Many had died along the way of starvation or illness and many had deserted.

Montgomery and Arnold attacked Quebec City at 4 am on December 31, 1775, but were badly defeated. Carleton was waiting for them and began firing when they were in range of the city's walls. General Montgomery was killed in the first fusillade. Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg. Arnold tried to keep up the siege but was forced to give up. Over 60 Americans died and more than 400 were captured in the Continental Army's first defeat. The Americans stayed at their posts in Montreal and surrounding Quebec City until the spring, still hoping to take the city. When newly appointed General John Thomas decided continuing the siege was pointless, the Americans fell back to Fort Ticonderoga in New York, never again to fight on Canadian soil.

Learn more about what happened on this day in history during the American Revolution here:

Robert Livingston's signature appears on this Agreement of Secrecy signed by Congress on November 9, 1775.

Robert Livingston's signature appears on this Agreement of Secrecy signed by Congress on November 9, 1775.

The Agreement of Secrecy, November 9, 1775

Papers of the Continental Congress- 1774-1789, Item 6A: Rough Secret Journal, 1776-79, p. 1; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention; Record Group 360; National Archives

Three months after the King declared every rebel a traitor, and with a reward posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders, the delegates to Congress adopted these strict rules of secrecy to protect the cause of American liberty and their own lives.

This document bears the signatures of eighty-seven delegates; thirty-nine signed on November 9, and the other delegates signed as they reported to Congress.

More at:

Independence NHP, Edgar Allan Poe NHS & Thaddeus Kosciuszko NM

Independence NHP, Edgar Allan Poe NHS & Thaddeus Kosciuszko NM

#History #Trivia: I served on the "committee of five," that drafted the Declaration of Independence. I was also the Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation. In 1789, I administered the presidential oath of office to President Washington. I also negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Who am I? Answer:

Saratoga National Historical Park

Saratoga National Historical Park

The Battle of Bemus Heights, 7 October 1777—about 4:00pm

Gates ordered devastating, sweeping attacks that hit Burgoyne’s thin reconnaissance force at their weakest points on the flanks. The British left flank collapsed, its two 6-pounders “captured…before a single shot had been fired from them.” British troops and artillery from the right were repositioned to bolster their faltering left. General Benedict Arnold “came up with a reinforcement,” Learned’s Brigade, and pressed forward.

Poor’s Continental and militia troops attack the British Grenadier Battalion on Burgoyne’s left flank. The grenadiers, Burgoyne’s toughest, most experienced redcoats, “broke their ranks” and fell back. Their commander, Major John Dyke Acland, was shot through his legs and captured.

#OnThisDay #SaratogaCampaign


From an article on, to give you an idea of the vastness of the land that Robert R. Livingston negotiated for when he completed the Louisiana Purchase:

"Now the United States was offered—for a mere $15 million—828,000 square miles, 530 million acres, at 3 cents per acre. This vast expanse doubled the nation’s size. Eventually the land from the Louisiana Purchase would become all or part of 15 states. It still accounts for almost one-quarter of the surface area of the United States."


July 11 is the anniversary of Alexander Hamilton's death in a duel with Aaron Burr over political issues in 1804. Three years earlier Hamilton's teenage son had died in a duel defending his father's politics. Robert R. Livingston wrote to Rufus King:

"I sincerely lament with you the death of young Hamilton and the more in that it originated in the unhappy party spirit which has too long disturbed the peace of our societies."

Robert R. Livingston to Rufus King 25 January 1802


On June 28, 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston rallied his regiment while most of the rest of the Continental Army was in chaos. For a time he and his men were the American line facing the reenforced rearguard of the British Army. Livingston's action allowed General George Washington to rally the rest of the army and fight the British to a standstill that day. Livingston's regiment suffered nearly 1/3 wounded and killed, including Livingston himself who was wounded.

Declaration of Independence - A History
Declaration of Independence - A History

Declaration of Independence - A History

Nations come into being in many ways. Military rebellion, civil strife, acts of heroism, acts of treachery, a thousand greater and lesser clashes...

Robert Livingston was among the first non-continental army officers allowed into the Society a few years later.  His mem...

Robert Livingston was among the first non-continental army officers allowed into the Society a few years later. His membership certificate, signed by George Washington and Henry Knox is currently on display at Clermont State Historic Site.

Today, May 13, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati at Mount Gulian in 1783. Today, Mount Gulian is the New York State Society’s official headquarters.

The Cincinnati Eagle Badge (pictured below) was originally owned by Lincoln Isham, a descendent of Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Isham's great-great grandfather, Captain John Jr. Isham, fought in the Revolutionary War and was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

The badge was made in France around 1900 and imported by Tiffany & Company in New York City. In the oval is a depiction of Cincinnatus in the field with his plow.
Loaned by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald A. DeSilva

#HudsonValleyHistory #RevolutionaryWar #MountGulian

On April 30, 1789 Chancellor Robert R. Livingston issued the oath of office to George Washington.  Several years later o...

On April 30, 1789 Chancellor Robert R. Livingston issued the oath of office to George Washington. Several years later on April 30, 1803 he signed the Louisiana Purchase. All in all, April 30th was a pretty good day for the Chancellor.

After the Burden Iron Mine closed the mine sat unused until 1939 when Herman Knaust began growing mushrooms in the old m...

After the Burden Iron Mine closed the mine sat unused until 1939 when Herman Knaust began growing mushrooms in the old mine. The History Barn recently acquired this wrapper from a can of mushrooms grown in the former No. 4 Mine somewhere between 1939 and 1950 when the mine was converted to record storage by the Iron Mountain Corporation.


An interesting research question came in today relating to a small but interesting piece of local history. In 1826, at the behest of Herman Livingston, inventor Thomas Blanchard set up a block making factory on the Roe Jan using his new invention, the irregular turning lather. The factory, called the Livingston Patent Block Company, turned out some of the best ships' blocks (pulleys) in the world under the supervision of William Woodworth. In 1836 the company and its patents were bought by the Winooski Patent Block Making Company of Winooski Falls, Vermont and the Livingston factory was closed within a year. Block Factory Road, off of Route 9G, just south of the Roe Jan is the legacy of the factory.

Some pages from the May 1893 Delineator

Some pages from the May 1893 Delineator
Henry Beekman Livingston, Black Sheep of the Livingston Clan | Journal of the American Revolution

Henry Livingston, or Harry as he was more commonly known, was born on November 9, 1750. He was a son of Judge Robert Livingston and his wife Margaret Beekman Livingston. Harry was the namesake of Margaret’s father Colonel Henry Beekman. As a child Henry was prone to uncontrolled fits of rage. As he…

Columbia County Historical Society

Columbia County Historical Society

On this day in 1804, the Balance and Columbian Repository, a Hudson newspaper ran this story about Robert R. Livingston of Clermont. Thomas Jefferson appointed Livingston Minister to France and while there he negotiated the purchase of Louisiana.


New York, 29 November 1783

...I can not permit him to go without offering you my congratulations on an event to which you have so greatly contributed to bring about, the evacuation of this City by the British on Tuesday last.
Our enemies are hardly more astonished than we ourselves and than you will be when you hear that we have been five days in town without the smallest disturbance, that the most obnoxious Royalists that had sufficient confidence in our clemency to them have not met with the least insult. Their shops were opened the day after we came in, and Rivington himself goes on as usual. His state of New York gazette is as well received as if he had never been printer to the Kings most excellent majesty. So that your friends in Europe will find their apprehensions totally ill founded, and that the race of Tories will not after all be totally extinct in America. Perhaps with good training, and by crossing the breed frequently (as they are very tame) they may be rendered useful animals in a few generations.

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston to John Jay 29 November 1783 on the Evacuation of New York City by the British.

Happy birthday Chancellor Robert Livingston born November 27 1746

Happy birthday Chancellor Robert Livingston born November 27 1746

Clermont State Historic Site

Clermont State Historic Site

Just two more days until the opening of our new exhibit "Chancellor Livingston: Reexamining a Founding Father." Come see us on Saturday at 2pm to hear a lecture with guest curator Geoff Benton and enjoy a Friends of Clermont reception with 18th century foods! $10 per person, please call (518) 537-4240 for reservations. Space is limited.

After the discovery of a new Revolutionary War document in Chancellor Livingston's handwriting in 2013, Clermont and other Livingston scholars have been taking a second look at the Chancellor, seeing him as more than just the "reluctant revolutionary" that he has been portrayed as. Come join us Saturday to find out why!

Clermont State Historic Site

Clermont State Historic Site

Have you gotten your reservations yet? Clermont's new exhibit Chancellor Livingston: Reexamining a Founding Father opens on Saturday, November 8th with a lecture by guest curator Geoff Benton and hot 18th century foods. Get your picture taken with our life-size Chancellor Livingston stand-up! Tickets are $10 per person, $5 for Friends of Clermont members. (518) 537-4240 to reserve.


October 7, 1777 saw the second battle of Saratoga take place. Hundreds of men from Livingston Manor took part in both the militia and the regular army. Most notably, Henry Beekman Livingston who commanded the 4th New York. Livingston and his regiment joined Benedict Arnold's charge into British and German Lines. On October 14, 1777 he wrote to his brother Chancellor Robert R. Livingston; " In the last engagement my regiment was the first that entered the enemies lines, and I believe I can safely affirm that I was the first man in there next to Genl Arnold who was on Horse Back."


119 County Route 19
Livingston, NY

Opening Hours

Saturday 10:00 - 13:00


(518) 851-7637


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