William Livingston, prominent revolutionary leader and first governor of New Jersey, was born in Albany, New York on November 30, 1723. His education was attained at Yale University, where he graduated in 1741. He went on to study law, was admitted to the bar in 1748, and then established a successful legal career. He also became known for his political essays, which were published in the Independent Reflector, a weekly newspaper that he founded in 1752. Livingston first entered politics as a member of the New York Assembly, a position he held from 1759 to 1769. After moving to New Jersey, he served as a member of the Essex County Committee Correspondence. He also served in the First Continental Congress in 1774, as well as in the Second Continental Congress, serving from 1775 to 1776. Livingston, who was an outspoken supporter of American Independence, served during the Revolutionary War as a brigadier general in the New Jersey state militia. In 1776 he resigned from the military, and returned to his political career. After the ratification of the state’s first constitution, Livingston was elected governor. He won reelection to fourteen consecutive one-year terms. During his tenure, war issues were dealt with; the state government was established; and antislavery measures were promoted. Livingston also served as an influential member of the 1787 U.S. Constitutional Convention, and was instrumental in securing New Jersey’s speedy ratification. While in office, Governor William Livingston passed away on July 25, 1790. His final resting place was in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.