Robert R. Livingston, aka “The Chancellor,” dies

Robert R. Livingston, aka “The Chancellor,” dies

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On February 26, 1813, New York Patriot Robert R. Livingston dies.

Robert R. (or R.R.) Livingston was the eldest of nine children born to Judge Robert Livingston and Margaret Beekman Livingston in their family seat, Clermont, on the Hudson River in upstate New York. The Livingston family were proprietors of large land claims in the Hudson Valley and their attempt to enforce restrictive leases led to tenant uprisings in 1766, during which the tenant farmers threatened to kill the lord of Livingston Manor, Robert Livingston (R.R.’s relative), and destroy his opulent homes. The British army suppressed the revolt, saving the Livingstons, in 1766.

In 1777, the British army burned down Clermont and another of R.R.’s estates, Belvedere, in retribution for Livingston’s decision to side with the Patriots. During the intervening 11 years between the tenant uprising and the burning of Clermont, Robert R. Livingston, who had graduated from King’s College (now Columbia University) in 1764, had established himself as a lawyer and political leader. He represented the Provincial Congress of New York at the Continental Congress in 1776 and helped to draft the Declaration of Independence, although he returned to New York before he was able to sign the document.

During the War of Independence, Livingston served as secretary of foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation. In 1783, he accepted the post of chancellor of the state of New York; he bore the title as a moniker for the rest of his life. The chancellor was a Federalist delegate to the ratification convention in New York, and, as New York’s senior judge, administered President Washington’s first oath of office. Under President Jefferson, Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase and, while minister to France, sponsored Robert Fulton’s development of the steamboat.

Today, both a bust in the U.S. Capitol and the name of New York’s Masonic Library memorialize R.R. Livingston as the Chancellor.

Robert Livingston

The first American ancestor was Robert Livingston. He is known as Robert Livingston the Elder.

Robert the Elder married Alida Schuyler, (this family is also related to David Abeel). When Robert the Elder died he divided the Manor by willing the majority of the land to his eldest son Phillip. He gave a much smaller piece of the land to his son Robert as a reward for detecting a "Negro plot" to kill all the white people in their neighborhood. This division of the land also created a division in the family. [5] Phillip did not like the fact that Robert had also been given land. Robert was very successful in his land which became known as the Clermont Manor. His piece of the land grew as he acquired more land and tenants which increased the jealousy Philip had towards him. [6]

Robert of Clermont willed the manor to his eldest son Robert R. Livingston. Robert was a judge so he is known as Robert the Judge. He married Margaret Beekman, who was heir to twenty four thousand acres of land just south of Clermont. [7] They had at least two sons, Robert R. Livingston and Henry Phillip Livingston. Robert R. Livingston son of Robert the Judge was also a lawyer and later became chancellor of New York. He is known as Robet the Chancellor. [8]

I am uncertain about which Robert is the person I am looking for. According to Lepore, Robert Livingston was an English lawyer and sea captain. Lepore made a mistake about Robert Livngston's origin. The Livignstons were not English, they were Scottish. Lepore also lists Livingston as a member of the Court Party and his wealth was estimated at 175 pounds. He also lived in the Dock ward. [10] So far I have not been able to find anything that says any Robert Livingston was a sea captain. I found many lawyers and a judge but no sea captain. Lepore may have made another mistake. If this is true then Robert of Clermont or his son Robert the Judge could be my elusive immigrant.

The Livingston family was famous for their patriotic spirit. Many members of this family served in the Continental Army and were distinguished by others as good soldiers. [11] The lawyers of the family worked with the new government drafting and signing important documents such as the Stamp Act, and the Declaration of Independence. Others joined the revolutionary groups such as the Sons of Liberty. The Livingstons became targets for the Loyalists because the they were known as true patriots in the revolutionary cause. After Robert the Judge's death, his manor burned by Loyalists. His widow was able to save her children and slaves. She was forced to relocate to Connecticut. [12] [13]

The Livingston family was also very generous to their Church. I found the names of many Livingstons as generous donors, deacons, and wardens to their church. I found the names of two Robert Livingstons as donors to the Church of Christ in Poughkeepsie. [14]

I have decided not to pursue the search for Robert Livingston because I do not think I will discover any accurate information about him. Any information I may provide may be a fabrication of the lives of all the Robert Livingstons put together. I have done my best but I feel pursuing this case will take more time than I have available.

The Livingstons

LIVINGSTON, N.Y. – Before the Kennedys, before the Roosevelts, before the Vanderbilts, there were the Livingstons.

From the late 17th century to the early 19th century, they were one of America’s most aristocratic families, lording over the Hudson River Valley and owning more land than the state of Rhode Island has.

Firm believers in noblesse oblige, the family helped mold the republic- one Livingston administered the oath of office to George Washington, another signed the Declaration of Independence, still another became a Supreme Court Justice.

As the country matured, the Livingstons consolidated their status, fiercely protecting their legacy and often marrying one another to retain their land. But by the early 20th century, the Livingstons had retreated from public life, preferring instead to enjoy the view.

Now, though, after coasting for two centuries on the achievements of men in big wigs with titles like “The Signer” and “The Judge,” the family has returned to prominence, thanks to Representative Robert Linlithgow Livingston, a 10th-generation descendant of Robert Livingston, First Lord of the Manor.

Mr. Livingston, the 55-year-old Louisiana Republican who is poised to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, may officially be a man of the South. But his distinctly Yankee and upper-crust bloodline has prompted Livingstons and non-Livingstons in upstate New York to claim him as an honorary son.

“I think this is great news, and we’re all very proud of him,” said Henry H. Livingston, a distant cousin who lives at Oak Hill, a 200-acre riverfront estate that was built in the 1790’s. “We’re not bragging, but this family is very interested in its history.”

Like so many blue-blooded families in the 20th century, though, the Livingstons have sometimes been bewildered by modernity, their fortunes watered down by income taxes, their sensibilities entrenched in a genteel time warp. So until the Congressman’s ascension to national prominence, few people talked about the Livingstons outside of the tour guides at the museums and historic sites dotting the area.To date, Mr. Livingston, the would-be Speaker, has not had much of a connection with the Hudson River Valley he has only been here once, his sister said, and that was for a big family reunion at the Clermont State Historic Site in 1986. But should he return, he would find an area steeped in Livingstonia, one still shaped by the family’s influence. There is, of course, the town of Livingston in Columbia County. There is the village of Linlithgo, which, save for a dropped “w” at the end, is the same as the Congressman’s middle name. Linlithgo is the family’s ancestral home in Scotland.

Clermont, the town, is named after Clermont, the family mansion. The village of Blue Store is named after a tavern that was painted blue, and owned by a W. T. Livingston. There is also Linlithgo Mills (a village), Livingston Manor (a town in Sullivan County) and assorted local institutions, such as Livingston Memorial Church (which is in Linlithgo, naturally).

Then there is the name Robert Livingston. According to the family’s hefty genealogical register, which is decorated with the family’s coat of arms, there have been 63 Robert Livingstons. This includes five Robert Linlithgow Livingstons, of whom the Congressman would technically be the 4th, and his 32-year-old son, the 5th.

One Livingston family, unable to muster anything original, simply named one of their sons Livingston Livingston.

“There is no more of an old-money, blue-blood family in the United States than the Livingstons,” said Robert Engel, the curator of collections for the Clermont State Historic Site, a former Livingston homestead. “These people know their legacy, and what is amazing is how much they continue to protect that legacy.”

The family’s fortunes began in 1686, when Robert Livingston, a 32-year-old merchant from Scotland, bought 160,000 acres and called it Livingston Manor. By the early 1800’s, the family had built about 40 mansions on the Hudson’s east bank and had accumulated, through business deals and marriages to families like the Van Rensselaers and the Beekmans, one million acres, including most of the Catskills.

The Livingston men entered public life. The most famous was Robert R. Livingston, great-grandson of the First Lord, who was known as “The Chancellor” because he was the first Chancellor of the State of New York. He also helped draft the Declaration of Independence, negotiate the Louisiana Purchase and provide financial muscle for Robert Fulton’s steamboat, the Clermont.

Edward Livingston, brother of “The Chancellor,” was no slouch, either. He was the Mayor of New York City and the United States Attorney from the New York district – simultaneously. Then, after he learned that some aides had embezzled municipal funds, he resigned and moved to New Orleans, where he became a United States Senator and Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State.

No other person in the family with the last name Livingston has made national news since the early 1800’s Mr. Engel said. But there have been many notable people with Livingston blood – so many, in fact, that the apropos question may well be who is not a Livingston?

Eleanor Roosevelt and Hamilton Fish were Livingstons. George Bush and his scions are Livingstons. So too, is former Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, whose own home is in the township of – what else? – Livingston, N.J.

“The Livingstons were like the Kennedys: they were in politics, there were a million of them, and you can’t help but liken them to a dynasty,” said Lucy Kuriger, the site director of Montgomery Place, a historic estate in Annandale-on-Hudson that was last owned by Dennis Dolefield, a first cousin of the Louisiana Congressman.

But unlike, say, the Kennedys or the Bushes, the Livingstons have never been associated with one political party or ideology. Instead, they were more known for their baronial life style in an area that does not look much different now than it did generations ago, with its rolling hills, apple farms and sweeping river views.

Shuttling between their estates on the river and their commodious apartments in Manhattan, the Livingstons floated through a world defined by Old World grace and comportment and lubricated by cook servants and gardeners. And they usually did not venture outside their peer group. In the town of Tivoli, for instance, there used to be two churches: one for the Livingstons, one for hoi polloi.

“It was an absolutely differen world then, and they were like the landlord and we were like the tenant,” said Peter Fingar, 69, of Germantown, whose ancestors moved from Germany in 1710 and worked on the Livingstons’ land. “We didn’t break bread with them, any more than the English did with the queen.”

These days, the Livingston aura continues at Oak Hill, the home of Henry H. Livingston, a retired financial analyst, and at Rokeby Preserve, a 500-acre estate owned by Winthrop Aldrich, a deputy commissioner of historic preservation for New York State.

But the family’s influence on residents like Mr. Fingar has become muted, given that the family’s reach has become so ingrained into everyday life: Townsfolk drive down streets that were once the Livingstons’ private roads, they eat in restaurants where Livingstons once dined, they pass historic markers bearing the Livingston name.

Even so, the news of Mr. Livingston’s rise to Speaker of the House has engendered calls for a commemorative plaque. Donald R. Kline, Livingston’s Town Supervisor, has suggested putting up a marker in town noting the connection between the Livingstons of the past and the Livingstons of the present.

Not only do the plaques abound, so, too, do the stories.

One of the more popular, for instance, involves Philip Henry Livingston, who was a grandson of Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

A few years ago, Laura W. Murphy, a black woman and director of the national legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, discovered that she was a descendant of Philip Henry Livingston.

In 1812, Mr. Livingston had a daughter with a slave, Barbara Williams, but never acknowledged his liaison. Ms. Murphy mentioned this bond in a letter to the Congressman a couple of years ago. He has responded with class and good cheer, Ms. Murphy said, occasionally signing his letters as “Cousin Bob” and introducing Ms. Murphy as his cousin.

“We’re having a ball with it,” said Ms. Murphy, who lives in Washington. “He seems to embrace history.”

Indeed, Mr. Livingston is aware – if perhaps a bit wary – of his family’s history, having inherited boxes of family mementos and an oil portrait of their grandfather, said his sister, Carolyn Teaford, in a telephone interview from her home in New Orleans.

Their grandfather (Robert L. Livingston) was a banker in New York City who died of pneumonia in 1925.

His widow, who also came from a wealthy family, then took her five children to France.

Their father (also Robert L. Livingston) returned to the United States during World War II, attending Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Mrs. Teaford said. He met their mother there, and the future Congressman was born in 1943. After the war, they spent a few years in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., before the father got a job in New Orleans as a salesman for National Distillers.

It was a bad omen he was an alcoholic, Mrs. Teaford said. In 1950, their parents divorced, and their father eventually fled to Spain to avoid paying alimony. But their mother persevered, found steady work and raised the two children.

As a result, they had little contact with the Livingston side of the family. But when they did meet, the Livingstons talked incessantly about the past.

“They loved to talk their family history they were big on things like, `Now your great-great-grandfather did such and such,’ ” Mrs. Teaford recalled. “Certainly we’re proud of that, and it’s wonderful to have a heritage. But my brother and I believe it’s who you are, and what you do, and not who your ancestors are, that make you a person.”

Postscript: Henry H. Livingston died in November, 2008. His son Henry now lives at Oak Hill.

The Clermont Estate

Sorting out the Livingston family to find the Robert who ruled the Clermont estate at the time of the American Revolution is like sorting out the pieces of a puzzle. It is a puzzle that confused generations of historians due to the frequency with which the name Robert was chosen for Livingston sons. Four different Robert Livingstons owned Clermont, between 1728 and 1843. Two other Roberts were the 1st and 3rd lords of Livingston Manor.

The first Robert Livingston, the founder of the Livingston family in America, arrived in Albany during the winter of 1673/74. It was to this gentleman, the son of a Scots minister, that the King of England gave a grant of 160,000 acres in 1686 that was known as Livingston Manor. This landholding stretched for 9 1/2 miles along the east shore of the Hudson River and extended inland to the ill-defined boundary with Massachusetts. Although Robert Livingston built his Manor House around 1699 on the mouth of the Roeloff Jansens Kill, where it flows into the Hudson, growth on the Manor came slowly. The settlement of 2,000 German Palatine refugees on land sold to the British Crown by Robert Livingston, in 1710, was a boon to settlement on the Manor. Although an attempt to establish a naval stores industry on this land – now Germantown – failed, many Palatine families took up leases to farm on Livingston’s land.

The First Lord of Livingston Manor and his wife, Alida Schuyler Van Renneselaer Livingston, had six children. When the Manor proprietor died in 1728 his eldest surviving son, Philip, inherited most of the Manor and the title “Lord of the Manor”. A younger son, Robert Livingston (1688-1775), inherited 13,000 acres south of Roeloff Jansens Kill that became the Clermont estate. Despite a family tradition that Robert was awarded this land for saving his father from a conspiracy of Indians (some say slaves), recent scholarship has shown that the First Lord planned to award this son the Clermont lands soon after the child’s birth.

This second Robert Livingston, known today as Robert of Clermont, built his fine stone and brick Georgian house about 1730. It was an imposing residence, but it was never a “Manor House”, nor was Clermont a manor, although the estate was often called the “Lower Manor” during the 18th century. Robert of Clermont and his descendants could never call themselves “Lords of the Manor” as could Robert’s brother Philip and, later, his eldest son.

The house built by Robert of Clermont was not always called “Clermont”. Family tradition holds that Robert wanted to call his new estate “Callendar”, harkening back to the family’s noble roots in Scotland, but that his brother, the Second Lord of the Manor, thought that too grandiose a name for a younger son.

It is known, from the accounts of a Maryland traveller named Alexander Hamilton, that the house was called “Ancram” as late as the 1740s. Sometime soon after Hamilton’s visit to the Hudson Valley, Robert renamed his house and estate “Clare Mount”. The name, meaning clear mountain, evokes the majestic Catskills that rise across the river from the front door of the house. It is probably no coincidence that Robert renamed his estate at a time when he was speculating heavily in Catskill Mountain land – he would eventually own nearly 500,000 acres! It is interesting to note that the Livingstons spelled the name of their estate in the English Manor until their house and farm buildings were put to the torch by the King’s troops in October 1777. By the 1780s Chancellor Robert R. Livingston was spelling the name “Clermont” in letters written from the estate.

Robert of Clermont lived to the ripe old age of 87. An ardent defender of colonists’ rights, it is said that he became so agitated by the news of the battles of Lexington and Concord that he suffered a fatal heart attack. Upon his death the “Lower Manor” became the property of his only child: another Robert Livingston. Robert R. Livingston (1718-1775), or Judge Livingston as he was known in Provincial New York, shared his father’s concerns about Colonial rights. As a member of the Stamp Act Congress he is said to have written the letter of protest sent to King George. He was cool toward the idea of Independence, however, as might be expected from one of New York’s largest landholders. Judge Livingston had married, in 1742, Margaret Beekman of Rhinebeck, the sole heir to vast landholdings in Dutchess and Ulster counties. This land would later be inherited by Judge and Margaret Beekman Livingston’s children. Eleven children were born of that union: ten survived to adulthood.

Robert the Judge died several months after his father in 1775, leaving his wife Margaret and their children to face the trials of the Revolution. Most dramatic was the burning of Clermont and its outbuildings on October 19, 1777 by British troops under the command of General John Vaughan. Aware in advance of the enemy’s approach, Margaret Beekman Livingston had hidden the silver and other valuables in her garden fountain. Other possessions were loaded aboard carts, and it was not until the servants warned that the British had been sighted that Mrs. Livingston, her daughters, and servants fled. Vaughan’s troops proceeded to burn the mansion, barns, and some mills nearby – one in particular that was producing black powder for the muskets of the rebel army.

The British retreated back to New York City soon after burning Clermont, aware by now of General John Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga. Margaret Livingston returned a few weeks later from Salisbury, Connecticut, where she fled for safety. The destruction to her home had been great: only the foundation and exterior walls remained. Nevertheless, she energetically went about the task of rebuilding Clermont, upon the original foundation and on the same Georgian plan. In order to get workmen she successfully petitioned Governor George Clinton to exempt skilled tenants – masons, carpenters, plasterers, etc.. – from military service. By 1782 she was able to entertain General and Martha Washington in her new home. It is this structure, considerably enlarged in 1801, 1831, 1874, and 1893, that we can enjoy today at Clermont State Historic Site.

Although Margaret Beekman Livingston had the burden of rebuilding Clermont during the Revolution, ownership of the estate had actually passed to her eldest son after the death of Judge Livingston. His name – you guessed it – was also Robert. Robert R. Livingston, Jr.. born in 1746, is the Town of Clermont’s most famous native son, and he was one of the most accomplished Americans of his generation. To distinguish him from the many other Robert Livingstons, he was called by his contemporaries Chancellor Livingston – Chancellor was a judicial title he was awarded after the new state Constitution was adopted in 1777.

Chancellor Livingston, like his father, was trained in the law. A early law partner was his friend and fellow Kings College (Columbia University) graduate John Jay. After the outbreak of the Revolution, Livingston was elected to serve in the Second Continental Congress. He was one of the five members of the committee chosen by Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence. Later, the Chancellor served as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs, the office that preceded the creation of the office of Secretary of State. In 1788 Livingston was a key member of the Poughkeepsie Constitutional Convention and after the Constitution was adopted he, as Chancellor of New York State, gave the oath of office to George Washington as first President of the United States at Federal Hall in New York City.

When the British burned the mansion at Clermont in 1777 they had also destroyed a small frame farmhouse that had been the country home of Chancellor Livingston and his wife before the war. In 1793 Livingston built a new grand neo-classical mansion, decidedly French in style, about a quarter mile south of his mother’s house, “Old Clermont”. To the everlasting confusion of historians, he named this house “Clermont” also (It was later known as Idele and Arryl House it was destroyed by a grass fire in 1909 and its ruins are visible just south of the parking lot at Clermont State Historic Site). In this house Livingston held his Court of Chancery and directed operations of his own experimental farm where he raised exotic fruit trees and vegetables and experimented with the use of lime as fertilizer. The Clermont farm later raised one of America’s first herds of Merino sheep, and his spring sheep shearings gained national attention.

Chancellor Livingston also oversaw activity on his tenant farms from his riverside mansion, with the aide of his physician and business manager Dr. William Wilson. In the 1790s Chancellor Livingston had about 100 tenant farmers living on his estate. Many of them were descendants of the Palatines who had come to New York in 1710. The Chancellor was a generous – or inept – landlord, compared to some of New York’s large landholders, including some of his Manor cousins: surviving rent rolls show that tenants were often years in arrears in paying their rent, portions of which were occasionally forgiven. Nonetheless, the tenant farms themselves appear to have been generally well run. An English visitor, William Strickland, wrote in 1796 that the average farm was of about 60 acres. 15 acres were reserved for wheat, 40 acres were planted for silage, and the remainder were used to grow maize, flax, or oats. For stock the tenant farmer had, according to Strickland, 9 horses, 4 cows, 3 oxen, 5 heifers, 3 calves, and 20 sheep. Commenting on one of the Chancellor’s tenant farms he wrote: “[It] is occupied by an industrious family of German descent, as I believe are most of Mr. Livingston’s farms … I have yet seen nothing to equal it in America.”

Chancellor Livingston broke with George Washington and the Federalist Party several years after giving the oath of office to the President. In 1801, with the ascendancy of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency, Livingston’s national political career was revived. He was appointed United States Minister to France. His most important accomplishment was the negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase. Because James Monroe, who outranked the Chancellor, arrived in Paris just before the deal was signed, Livingston has never received the credit due him. A more satisfying result of Livingston’s tour of duty in France was his partnership with Robert Fulton.

The Chancellor had long been fascinated with the possibilities of steam navigation, and had even built experimental steamboats in nearby Tivoli in the 1790s. He lacked the mechanical genius to make his dream a reality – Fulton supplied that genius. The Chancellor assisted his partner by supplying necessary funds and by pushing through the New York Legislature a bill that granted the Livingston-Fulton partnership a monopoly on steam navigation in State waters. Having observed the success of one of their prototypes on the Seine, Livingston left France for America in 1804. Fulton joined him two years later. On August 17,1807 their invention made her maiden voyage from New York to Albany in 30 hours. The graceful Hudson River sloops of the period could take days to cover the same distance. This event marked a major milestone in American history. The vessel, incidentally, was called simply the “Steam-boat” by Fulton. During its second year on the river it was rechristened the “North River”. Not until many years after the boat was broken up for scrap did anyone call it the “Clermont”.

Chancellor Livingston died at his Clermont home on February 26, 1813 surrounded by his family, household slaves, and his attending physician, William Wilson. Upon his death the estate was broken up for the first time. The 1792 mansion, and several hundred acres of land in Columbia and Dutchess counties, was inherited by Livingston’s younger daughter, Margaret Maria, and her husband Robert L. Livingston. “Old Clermont” and most of the Chancellor’s landholdings in the Town of Clermont were inherited by his elder daughter, Elizabeth Stevens. She, too, had married a Manor cousin, Edward Philip Livingston. Edward P. Livingston was the master of Old Clermont from 1800, when Margaret Beekman Livingston died, until his death in 1843. He was Lt. Governor of New York State, a member of the Board of Regents, and a benefactor of the Clermont Academy. After his death his son, Clermont Livingston, acquired the house and several hundred acres : other children of Edward P. Livingston received riverfront farm lots north of Clermont. “Northwood”, “Southwood”, “Holcroft”, “Midwood”, and “Chiddingstone” are among the country seats built in the 19th century in the Town of Clermont by descendants of Edward P. Livingston.

Around 1876 John Henry Livingston, the only son of Clermont Livingston, took over responsibility for Old Clermont. He was trained in the law, but had retired to the country following the death of his first wife. In 1879 he established a commercial dairy business at Clermont: applying the principles of pasteurization, he shipped milk to Manhattan from the New York Central Railroad station at Tivoli. He also oversaw a commercial orchard on the Clermont farm. In 1898 John Henry Livingston tried to reestablish the family’s fortunes in politics. Running for Congress as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, he lost by a handful of votes. If not for the support he received from his neighbors in the Town of Clermont the vote would not have been nearly as close.

In 1906 John Henry Livingston married for the third time. His new wife was Alice Delafield Clarkson, from the nearby “Holcroft” estate, who, like her husband was a descendant of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston. This marriage produced two daughters, neither of whom had children. John Henry Livingston died in 1927. His wife, several years before her death in 1964, donated the historic house and many of its contents to the People of the State of New York. An additional 400 acres surrounding the house were purchased by the State. Since 1974 Clermont State Historic Site, as the property is known today, has been restoring the house, outbuildings, formal gardens, and trails for the education and enjoyment of a growing local and national audience. In 1987 over 130,000 people visited Clermont to tour the mansion, enjoy the picnic grounds, participate in workshops or special events, view special exhibits, or hike and cross-country ski the five miles of historic carriage roads and trails.

At the beginning of its voyage, the Chancellor carried eight passengers and twenty crew members. By the end, only eleven people (five passengers and six crew) remained alive.

Passengers Edit

  • J.R. Kazallon, the narrator and one of the survivors.
  • Mr. Kear, an American from Buffalo, is a wealthy and conceited man of about 50 years of age whose fortunes lie in the petroleum industry. Leaving behind his feverish wife, he escapes the Chancellor in a whaleboat on the night of December 5 and is not seen again (his death, given the storminess of the ocean the next morning, is implied).
  • Mrs. Kear
  • Miss Herbey, one of the survivors.
  • M. Letourneur, one of the survivors.
  • Andre Letourneur, one of the survivors.
  • William Falsten, a 45-year-old Englishengineer from Manchester who passes much of his time aboard the Chancellor engrossed in mechanical calculations. He is one of the eleven survivors.
  • John Ruby, a Welshmerchant originally of Cardiff whose sole goal in life seems to be the pursuit of profit. He loses his sanity after learning of the fire burning in the ship's hold and realizing that it could detonate the thirty pounds of potassiumpicrate he had brought on board the ship. He dies on October 29, burned to death after jumping into the burning cargo hold.

Crew Edit

  • John Silas Huntly, an approximately 50-year-old Scotsman of Dundee, is the captain of the Chancellor until he resigns his post to his first mate on October 23. He escapes the Chancellor in a whaleboat on the night of December 5 and is not seen again (his death, given the storminess of the ocean the next morning, is implied).
  • Robert Curtis, the first mate on the Chancellor. John Silas Huntly passes over his post as captain to him on October 23 and he acts as a leader of sorts throughout the story. He survives the events.
  • Lt. Walter, dies from fever.
  • The boatswain
  • Hobart was the steward on the ship. Kazallon describes him as being in the best health during the raft trip, and it is eventually revealed that he was hoarding bacon. On this day, January 18, he commits suicide and several sailors cannibalize his remains. Kazallon, Miss Herbey, M. Letourneur, and Andre do not partake and it is unknown if Curtis does. His remains are thrown overboard on January 19, presumably by Andre.
  • Jynxstrop, a black cook. He ultimately comitts suicide by jumping at the sea to be eaten by sharks.

The crew and passengers of the Chancellor are at sea for four months, from September 27, 1869 to January 27, 1870.

Note: This timeline omits any events for which the date cannot be precisely determined.

Political career

Livingston was appointed Recorder of New York City in October 1773, but soon identified himself with the anti-colonial Whig Party and was replaced a few months later with John Watts, Jr. He was a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, although he was recalled by his state before he could sign the final version of the document.

In 1777-1801 Livingston was the first Chancellor of New York, then the highest judicial officer in the state. He became universally known as "The Chancellor", retaining the title as a nickname even after he left the office. Livingston was also U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1781 to 1783 under the Articles of Confederation.

In 1789 as Chancellor of New York, Livingston administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington at Federal Hall in New York City, then the Capital of the United States.

In 1789 Livingston joined the Jeffersonian Republicans (later known as the Democratic-Republicans), in opposition to his former colleagues John Jay and Alexander Hamilton who founded the Federalists. He formed an uneasy alliance with his previous rival George Clinton, along with Aaron Burr, then a political newcomer. He opposed the Jay Treaty and other Federalist initiatives. [4]

In 1798 Livingston ran for Governor of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket, but was defeated by incumbent Governor John Jay.

As U.S. Minister to France from 1801 to 1804, Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. After the signing of the Louisiana Purchase agreement in 1803, Livingston made this memorable statement:

We have lived long but this is the noblest work of our whole lives . The United States take rank this day among the first powers of the world. [5]

During his time as U.S. minister to France, Livingston met Robert Fulton, with whom he developed the first viable steamboat, the North River Steamboat, whose home port was at the Livingston family home of Clermont Manor in the town of Clermont, New York. On her maiden voyage she left New York City with him as a passenger, stopped briefly at Clermont Manor, and continued on to Albany up the Hudson River, completing in just under 60 hours a journey which had previously taken nearly a week by sloop. In 1811 Fulton and Livingston became members of the Erie Canal Commission.

Livingston was a Freemason, and in 1784 he was appointed the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, retaining this title until 1801. The Grand Lodge's library in Manhattan bears his name. The Bible Livingston used to administer the oath of office to President Washington is owned by St. John’s Lodge No. 1, and is still used today when the Grand Master is sworn in, and, by request, when a President of the United States is sworn in.

Clermont State Historic Site

The topic of slavery in the northern part of America always seems to arouse curiosity in visitors. Images of Southern slavery have been firmly planted in our minds by popular literature and movies, but Northern slavery often remains a hazy and poorly-illustrated concept.
By 1810, both neighboring households also list "other free persons" in their residents, which could have been paid servants working at Clermont (occupations are not preserved unfortunately) as the available slave population declined. Beginning on July 4, 1799, all children born to slave mothers would be considered free, thus gradually eliminating those legally eligible for slavery. Some authors have also suggested that one the Gradual Manumission law was passed, Northern slave holders were beginning to sell their slaves to Southern owners to protect their financial investment. In 1827, manumission was completed, and all remaining enslaved peoples were legally free. (Read more about New York slavery here) In 1800, some Clermont slaves acheived their freedom when Margaret Beekman Livingston died. Those who wanted it and were 30 were given their freedom, and Robin, Scipio, Marian, and Nan (who were all too old to support themselves if freed) were given the choice of which of Livingston children they preferred to live with. She also provided an allowance of 12 pounds a year be given to the owner of their new home for their care.
The irony of the Livingstons' continued ownership of slaves was that Chancellor Livingston belonged to the New York Manumission Society. The organization's goal was the emancipation of enslaved peoples, and several notable elite members were also slave holders, including John Jay.

The Chancellor also waited until his death to free any of his slaves. "I also direct to manumit all my Slaves that may chose it" who were 30 or would be 30 within two years. As soon as it was "convenient" to his wife, she could let any other go that she wanted. Two men and two women were bequeathed to Mistress Chancellor to be maintained until her death and then sold, with the proffits going to the Livingston daughters.

1 comment:

Hello! Thank you for blogging about Clermont. I grew up in Rhinebeck and spent most 4th of July evenings watching fireworks from the hill, after performing with my summer theater troupe in the gardens.

I am researching slavery in the Hudson Valley and am trying to find more detailed information about the names, ages, duties, and numbers of humans who were enslaved by the Livingstons and other prominent families of the region. Are you able and willing to help me in this endeavor?

Any information will be much appreciated. I am trying to educate, enlighten, and empower myself and others.

Thanks again for this blog. You've done a fantastic job. I am following!

Robert R. Livingston

Robert R. Livingston was born on November 27, 1746, the son of colonial Supreme Court of Judicature Justice Robert Livingston. Upon graduating from King’s College (now Columbia University) in 1765, Livingston studied law, first in the law office of William Smith, a prominent New York attorney, and later in the law office of Governor William Livingston of New Jersey. Admitted to the bar in 1773, he practiced law in partnership with John Jay for a short time. He then set up his own law office in New York City, built an extensive practice and became eminent in his profession.

In 1773, Livingston’s public service career began when he was appointed Recorder of New York City. He went on to become a member of the second, third and fourth Provincial Congresses of New York (1775-1777). As a delegate from New York to the Continental Congress in 1775-1777 and again in 1779-1780, Livingston was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Participating in the fourth New York Provincial Congress which became the Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York on July 10, 1776, he was a member of the committee that drafted the New York Constitution of 1777. The Convention of Representatives of the State of New York appointed him the first Chancellor of New York, and his appointment was confirmed following the Hadden case. While serving as Chancellor, he administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington in New York City on April 30, 1789.

President Thomas Jefferson appointed Livingston as Minister to France in 1801. Together with James Monroe, he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase on behalf of the United States government and in his honor, New York State contributed to the Hall of Statutes in the United States Capitol a bronze statue of Livingston holding the Louisiana purchase deed. A dual cast was commissioned for the New York Capitol, and it now stands in the courtroom of the New York Court of Appeals in Albany.

In 1804, Robert Livingston withdrew from public life and pursued his interest in steam navigation. Livingston and the inventor Robert Fulton had met in Paris in 1802, and they now joined forces to design and build the first successful steamboat in New York. It was launched on the Hudson River in 1807, and a jubilant Legislature granted Livingston an extension of his monopoly for steamboat transportation in New York waters.

In 1812, Livingston brought an action against Albany attorney James Van Ingen, the owner of competing steamboats, seeking to enforce his steamboat monopoly. Although he was successful in the case of Livingston v. Van Ingen, that decision did not put the issue of the Livingston & Fulton monopoly to rest. It came before the courts again in 1820, in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden.

The 1919 Time Capsule of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital

The time capsule box with the tool used to cut open the box’s copper lid

During the Special Communication of Freemasons at the Utica campus on October 5 th , 2019, I was honored when M.’.W.’. William Sardone, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of New York, invited me to come to the Communication to open a time capsule with him. This time capsule was from the cornerstone of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, located on the campus of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y., which was sealed in the cornerstone on September 20, 1919. M.’.W.’. Sardone had to use metal cutting pliers, visible on the top of the box in the above image, showing the time capsule after it was transported to The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge in New York City.

  • The inside of the time capsule box
  • The time capsule box at the Library

The box was made of copper plating, as shown in the above images, and was welded shut, which resulted in the items inside being in remarkably good condition even one hundred years after the time capsule was sealed shut.

The Context of the Time Capsule:

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, whose corner stone contained the 1919 time capsule

The origins of this time capsule date back to September of 1919, as World War I has ended, and the Masonic Home Campus in Utica, N.Y., was beginning to grow under the leadership of Superintendent William J. Wiley, 27 years after the Masonic “Asylum” was first established in 1893 as a home for worthy indigent Masons, their widows, and orphans. With Masonic veterans returning from the war in need of medical care, it was clear that a new hospital building on the campus was needed. At the end of World War I, there was a fund consisting of $700,000.00, which had been raised to assist servicemen during the war. The Masonic Home decided to use this money to help construct The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital on the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y. In May of 1919, MW William S. Farmer, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York had stated the following:

“For years there has been a crying need for a hospital. At present the trustees are compelled to reject many an application for admission to the home, for the reason that the subject of the application is suffering from disease, either chronic or acute, and therefore not admissible. The result of this is that the very patient most in need of our benefaction is turned down and in many instances compelled to spend the period of his incapacity either in an alms house or become the subject of some private charity.”

He also stated that the hospital would serve as both a memorial to the Masons from New York who died during the Great War, and as a place where Masonic Veterans from the War could come to get “medical care free of all expense.”

The Laying of the Corner Stone: September 20, 1919:

This image shows the crowd that gathered for this event, along with the crane used to move the corner stone into place, on September 20, 1919. Image courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge branch site at the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y.

After the Masonic Home decided to erect a new hospital building on the Utica campus, the cornerstone that enclosed the time capsule was laid on September 20th, 1919. It was reported in the September 20, 1919 issue of the Utica Saturday Globe that thousands of Masons marched in a parade from Genesee Street in Utica to the campus of the Masonic Home, where the corner stone ceremony took place.

Here is an image of the plaque that was placed on the corner stone to commemorate the corner stone laying on September 20, 1919 The corner stone laying ceremony involved many festivities, including a performance by the Utica Masonic Home Children’s Band, shown in this image. Image courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge branch site at the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y.

What was Inside the Time Capsule?

So what treasures did our library and museum staff and myself find within this time capsule?

  • Christine Hesch, Curator of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge, counts the stars on the large American flag after it was unfolded
  • The smaller flags of the Allied Nations

The first item removed from the time capsule was a large American Flag. This flag was at least 6.5 feet tall, and was hand-made: I noticed that every stripe and star in the flag was stitched together by hand. The flag had 46 stars, dating it to the period when Oklahoma was admitted as a State to the Union on November 16, 1907, and was the official U.S. flag for four years under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft until 1912, when New Mexico and Arizona became U.S States. My theory for why this flag was included was that it may have flown from one of the flag poles at the Utica campus, and rather than retiring the flag, they folded it and placed it in the time capsule. In addition to the large flag, there were six smaller flags rolled up in an issue of The Masonic Standard from 1919: the flags were: American, British, Union Jack, French, Italian, and Belgian, one for each of the Allied Nations during World War I. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, was signed in 1919, so these flags may have been included to commemorate this.

The Typed Inventory of Items:

Under these flags was a typed Inventory of the items included in the time capsule, typed on good-quality paper stationary from the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

Pages 1 and 2 of the Typed Inventory

Page 3 of the Typed Inventory

There were several photographs in the time capsule, such as one that was mentioned in the Inventory, of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y., showing the Old Administration Building in the center, and the Tompkins Memorial Chapel on the left. However, the photographs included in the time capsule of people were not listed in the Inventory, suggesting that they may have been placed in the time capsule on the day the corner stone was laid and the time capsule sealed – eight photographs in all.

The Old Administration Building in the center, and the Tompkins Memorial Chapel on the left, circa 1919

One of these photographs was of Freemason Charles H. Johnson, or “Charlie.” He was a Freemason member of Ancient City Lodge No. 542 in Albany, N.Y. He also served as Grand Master from 1930-1932 and Grand Secretary from 1932-1947. He lived in Albany and was a retired minister, working primarily on social welfare, superintending institutions for children and he wrote articles and gave lectures on children, the mentally ill, and the incarcerated. In 1914, he was appointed as Deputy Warden of Sing Sing prison, and served as NYS Commissioner of Social Welfare from 1916-1932. The Memorial Hospital was significant to him since he lost his only son, Orville, who was killed in action on July 18, 1918 at Chateau-Thierry in World War I as a Second Lieutenant of the 112 th Machine Gun Battalion of the 26 th Division.

The second photograph discovered was of Freemason John Stewart. John Stewart was a member of Albion Lodge No. 26 (now called St. John’s Lodge No. 1). He served as a Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and was Treasurer of the Board of Trustees during the building of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y. He also served as the Deputy Grand Master of the State of New York from 1894-1895, and was elected Grand Master in 1896 (hence the date on the photograph). In 1906, he again served as Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and its Treasurer, and when he died in 1908, he was on the Committee charge of building the present Grand Lodge Building at 71 West 23 rd Street.

The third photograph that was found was of Freemason George T. Montgomery. He served as District Deputy Grand Master from 1903-1904. He also served as a trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum in 1907 and 1909-1918/19. In addition,when the corner stone was laid in 1919, he was serving as the Treasurer of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

The fourth photograph observed was of Freemason William S. Farmer. He was a member of Central City Lodge No. 305 in Syracuse, New York. In 1889, he was the vice president and managing Director of Farmers and Traders Bank, and worked as a lawyer with the firm Kimball in South Dakota. In 1915, he moved to Syracuse to practice law with the firm W. S. and H. H. Farmer and was appointed a Judge of the Municipal Court, a position he served in until his death. Furthermore, he was also the Chairman of the New York Committee on the George Washington Memorial – where he did fundraising for this monument and worked hard to establish it in Alexandria, Virginia.

The fifth photograph examined from the box was of Freemason Robert H. Robinson. He was a retired wholesale drapery merchant for the Mills & Gibbs Corporation of 2 Park Avenue, and lived at 170 West 73 rd Street, N.Y.C. He was also a noted orator, serving as Treasurer of the general Synod of the Reformed Church of America, speaking on the significance of the Bible and other subjects. He was a 33 rd degree Mason and member of Crescent Lodge No. 402, and from 1914-1916, he served as Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York also serving as Deputy Grand Master from May 1918-May 1920, and finally as Grand Master from May 1920-May 1922. In addition, he served on many Masonic Committees, including the Grand Lodge Committee on the Hall & Asylum in 1916, the Masonic Home in Utica, and the War Relief Committee in 1918.

The sixth photograph was of Freemason S. (Samuel) Nelson Sawyer. A lifelong resident of Palmyra, New York, he was a 33 rd degree Mason who was a member of Palmyra Lodge 248 in Palmyra, New York, and served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1908-1910. In his professional life, he served as a NY Supreme Court Justice from October 1908-December 31, 1929. In addition, he was supposedly the one who first suggested the idea of the Chapel at the Utica Masonic Home campus (the previous chapel was in a small room in the Old Administration Building), which led to Superintendent Wiley and the grand master discussing the chapel, and the new chapel was built (in April of 1910, he laid the cornerstone of this building). He also had much Committee involvement, as he was a nearly twenty year member of the Committee of the Hall & Asylum, the War Relief Commission, and the Committee that erected the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica. It also makes that that he would have been involved with this time capsule to preserve these artifacts, as he was a longtime member of the New-York Historical Society.

The seventh photograph included in the time capsule was of Freemason and Superintendent William J. Wiley. He was the first superintendent of the Masonic Home who served for a lengthy period – due to his care of the children at the home – he was nicknamed “Dad” Wiley, and worked at the home from 7 in the morning to 9 at night, seven days a week.He served as superintendent for nearly 40 years: from 1906 to 1945, and was a 33 rd degree Mason, and a member of Copestone Lodge No. 641 in N.Y.C.In addition,on May 7, 1936, he was elected Past Grand Master of the NY Grand Lodge, and previously in 1930, he was voted the “outstanding citizen of Utica.”Superintendent Wiley was also the one who discontinued the education of orphan on the Utica campus, instead working to have them educated in the Utica Public Schools.Furthermore, superintendent Wiley was also a builder for the campus, as during his tenure, the following building were constructed:The Charles Smith Infirmary, 1907The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel, 1911The Knights Templar Building, 1917 The Scottish Rite Building, 1922the 1923 “Cottage” The John W. Vrooman Memorial Dormitories, 1928, and Wiley Hall, 1928.

Superintendent William J. Wiley

Finally, the eighth photograph was of Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley with her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley. The Masonic Standard of 1911 called Mr. Wiley and his wife and daughter “Santa Claus And His Assistants” due to their service to the children of the Masonic Home. The mother, Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley, was Superintendent Wiley’s wife and Matron of the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, called “Mamma Wiley” by the children. Mrs. Wiley obituaries stated that she was well-loved by the children, always ready to address their needs. Her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley, was the organist for the Masonic Home in the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel.

Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley and her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley

Newspapers with Inventory:

In addition to photographs, there were also several 1919-era newspapers included in the time capsule, which recorded the current local and nationwide events of the time. Here is an example of one of these newspapers, The Utica Saturday Globe, which mentioned the corner stone laying event of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. The biggest event mentioned in all the newspaper was the 1919 Steelworkers’ Strike. There was also a written list of the newspapers that were placed in the time capsule.

  • The Newspaper Inventory
  • The Utica Saturday Globe newspaper, which reported the cornerstone laying ceremony of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital

The time capsule also had several Masonic publications as well. One example was a small facsimile, or reproduction, contained in a green box, of the St. John’s Bible, upon which Freemason George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.

The St. John’s Bible

There are also copies of the Constitution, Regulations, Definitions, and Rules of order of the New York Grand Lodge and the Code of Procedure of the New York Grand Lodge from the time period the time capsule was sealed.

There was also a 1918 Grand Lodge pamphlet book from Miss Suzanne Silvercruys and others that was in an envelope from the Office of the Grand Secretary. In this book, Miss Silvercruys thanks MW Thomas Penny for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York sending $5,000.00 to Belgian Relief to help Belgium recover from the devastation caused by World War I.

The 1918 Grand Lodge pamphlet book from Miss Suzanne Silvercruys

In addition, there were other Masonic publications as well. For instance, there was a copy of the 1919 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, the Minutes and Proceedings of the Conference of Grand Masters of the United States in New York City from 1918 (note the flag of the Allied Nations to the left of the title page).

The 1919 New York Grand Lodge Proceedings Title Page of the Minutes of the 1918 Grand Masters Meeting in New York City

There was also a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws of the War Relief Administration. The War Relief Administration (or WRA) was set up by the New York Grand Lodge after America’s entry into World War I by 1917 and the Grand Lodge found that 50,000 New York State Masons were serving in various branches of the services, many overseas. The WRA made arrangements with other American Grand Lodges to set up relief work in France, headed by MW Townsend Scudder – who raised funds and selected personnel. However, the conditions at the front combined with a lack of transportation for men and goods made it hard for the WRA to progress far with its plans before the Armistice. It was the money left over from the WRA that helped to fund the hospital.

Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws of the War Relief Administration (W.R.A.)

Furthermore, there was a copy of Brotherhood, and inserted within the pages of this journal was a photograph of Freemason John Lloyd Thomas, Secretary of the Masonic Home, Utica, N.Y. and a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies in the Valley of N.Y.C. John Lloyd Thomas was a 33 rd degree Mason who lived in Utica, N.Y., and was a member of Benevolent Lodge No. 28, and was a writer and lecturer. He was also a onetime President of the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund. His photograph was probably included in the copy of Brotherhood because he was the editor of this publication – dedicated to the Scottish Rite and other Masonic subjects of interest and published by the New York Bodies of the Scottish Rite and circulated to its membership from 1913 until it was discontinued in 1920.

  • The August 1919 Issue of Brotherhood
  • John Lloyd Thomas

Finally, there was even a book stamped by the Children’s Library at the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, that was found in the box – a copy of Literary Digest. Given the Masonic Home’s extensive history of caring for children before they transitioned more toward senior care, I was surprised that this book was included. It was not in the original inventory, but it has a sticker with “W. J. Wiley” printed on it, so I think Superintendent Wiley placed it in the box.

A copy of The Literary Digest from the Children’s Library of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

The Envelope, with the Masonic Medals and Plaque

Furthermore, the time capsule contained an envelope with medals and a plaque inside that commemorated various significant New York Masonic events. These items were donated by R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan, a Railroad Clerk by trade from Suffern, New York. He was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and was the Grand Sword Bearer in 1895. He later served as Acting Grand Secretary from June 1931-May 1932, and Grand Secretary Emeritus from 1932-1933. Following the death of MW Jesse B. Antony in 1905, he actually served as Superintendent of the Masonic Home in Utica until the appointment of William J. Wiley as Superintendent. The hospital might have meant something to him, as he was a member of Masonic Veterans.

One of the medals from the time capsule was this silver medal commemorates the dedication of the Masonic Temple in New York City on June, 2, 1875, that existed before the present New York Grand Lodge building. You can see the building on one side of the medal, and the other side of the medal shows the seal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. It took the Masons some time to raise the funds for the construction of this Grand Lodge Building, as due to inflation from the Civil War and the passage of time, the cost of the building increased to $1.5 million from an initial estimate of $35,000.00. Once built, the Grand Lodge Building proved to be more of a financial liability, as the debts from its construction were not settled until the 1880’s.

  • Front of 1875 Medal
  • Back of 1875 Medal

The second medal found in the time capsule was a Bronze Medal to Commemorate the Freedom of the Craft from Debt, on April 24, 1889. This was an important date in New York Masonry, for it marked when Masonry had paid off all its debts from the construction of the 1875 Grand Lodge Building in N.Y.C. Grand Master Frank R. Lawrence was the Mason who was able to settle the debt: when he took office in 1885, the debt was $700,000.00, by the end of his term, there was a surplus of $200,000.00 in funds, which were soon earmarked for the construction of the Masonic Home in Utica. Therefore, not only was did this event mark when Freemasonry in New York became financially sustainable, but it also led to the construction of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, where the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital was built.

  • Front of 1889 Medal
  • Back of 1889 Medal

The third medal found in the capsule was a Gilt Medal to Commemorate the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Masonic Asylum, Utica, New York, on May 21, 1891. The front of the medal shows the Old Administration Building. The gold bar on the medal’s ribbon, with the years 1842 and 1891 signifies the first time the idea of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was first suggested by Brother Greenfield Pote in 1842, and when the corner stone of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was laid in 1891. The Administrative Building was dedicated in October of 1892 and occupied by 1893. It could accommodate 150 people by administrative offices – in 1965, it was demolished to make way for a more functional one-story replacement building.

  • Front of 1891 Medal
  • Back of 1891 Medal

Another medal found in the box was a Gilt Medal Struck by Ocean Lodge # 156. This Lodge was chartered on March 5, 1850 in New York (in Manhattan). This Lodge was involved in the dedication of the Worth Monument on Madison Square November 25, 1857 the corner stone laying of the Egyptian Obelisk in Central Park, and the dedications of both the present Masonic Hall Building and the Masonic Home in Utica. In addition, this Lodge was actively involved in fundraising for the Hall & Asylum Fund, and in June 1888 it had paid its full quota requested to help pay off the “great debt” of the Craft.

Medal from Ocean Lodge No. 156

Also discovered with the medals was a Bronze Masonic Piece Struck at Pan American Exposition in 1901. My research did not reveal if the Masons has an exhibit at the Exposition, but this souvenir token may have been placed in the box to commemorate Freemason William McKinley, 25 th President of the United States, who was assassinated at this Exposition.

Souvenir Token from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition

Finally, there was a Bronze Plaque of Morton Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar (of New York City) for their Semi-Centennial in 1873, or fiftieth anniversary. It makes sense that R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan (mentioned earlier) would donate this plaque, as he was a member of Columbian Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar.

Plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Morton Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar, in 1873

Stamps, Coins, Documents, and Other Items

In addition, there were also stamps, coins, and other items found in the time capsule.

For example, a full set of 1919-era stamps were included, which give an idea of the postage used at the time: including stamps with portraits of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin (both Freemasons) as well as a Special Delivery stamp and the Curtiss Jenny Airplane stamp. The Inventory does not state who gave the stamps, but I think Freemason Charles H. Johnson gave them (whose photograph was mentioned earlier), since his biography file in the Library’s Vertical Files stated that he was “a stamp collector of more than local note.”

The complete set of circa-1919 U.S. stamps from the time capsule

The Inventory states that Brother George Chase gave the coins placed in the time capsule. My research revealed that he was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and that he was a jeweler by profession.

Some of these coins dated from the early twentieth century, which gives us an idea of what the typical currency was that was used in 1919. One of these coins was a copper 1919 wheat or “wreath” penny. It was designed by Victor D. Brenner and in circulation from 1909-1958, and created to commemorate the 100 th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and was the first cent to include the motto “In God We Trust.”

  • Front of 1919 Lincoln Cent
  • Back of 1919 Lincoln Cent

A second coin found in the box was a 1919 U.S. Nickel, also called the “Buffalo” or “Indian Head” Nickel. It was designed by James Earle Fraser and in circulation from 1913-1938. Fraser supposedly modeled the bison on the coin on the bison Black Diamond in the New York Central Park Zoo.

  • Front of 1919 Buffalo Nickel
  • Back of 1919 Buffalo Nickel

Another coin discovered in the capsule was a 1917 U.S. Silver Quarter or “Standing Liberty” Quarter. It was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil, and in circulation from 1916-1930.

  • Front of 1917 Standing Liberty Quarter
  • Back of 1917 Standing Liberty Quarter

Finally a 1915 U.S. Silver Dime or the “Barber”/”Liberty Head” Dime was found in the capsule. Its Obverse was designed by Charles E. Barber (chief engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time), but its reverse was created by James B. Longacre in 1860 for the Liberty Seated Dime, and it was in circulation from 1892-1916.

  • Front of 1915 Barber Dime
  • Back of 1915 Barber Dime

The time capsule also contained several nineteenth century coins that were older than the 1910’s. The first of these coins that was found in the capsule was the 1893 U.S. Silver Half Dollar from the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. In was issued for just 2 years from 1892-1893 during the Exposition. Unlike the other coins in the time capsule, this coin was a commemorative coin, with a portrait of Christopher Columbus on one side and his ship with two globes on the other.

  • Front of 1893 Half Dollar
  • Back of 1893 Half Dollar

In addition, there was an 1864 U.S. Two-Cent Coin. An Act of April 22, 1864, included a provision for a bronze two-cent coin, designed by James B. Longacre, and in circulation from 1864-1873. This was the first time the motto “In God We Trust” was placed on a circulating coin. The two-cent coin was predicted to become widely used, by the introduction of the three-cent nickel in 1865 and the five cent nickel in 1866 decreased the demand for this coin, and the Coinage Act of 1873 abolished this form of denomination in U.S. currency.

  • Front of 1864 Two-Cent Coin
  • Back of 1864 Two-Cent Coin

There was also the 1819 U.S. Copper One-Cent Coin, also called the “Matron Head Large Cent.” It was designed by Robert Scot and in circulation from 1816-1836. Beginning in 1850, the U.S. Mint wanted to make smaller cents to replace the large cent to increase profits and create a coin that was convenient for users to handle. Production of large cents was officially discontinued by an Act of February 21, 1857.

  • Front of Matron Head Large Cent
  • Back of Matron Head Large Cent

Finally, the oldest coin found in the time capsule was the 1804 U.S. Copper Half-Cent Coin or “Draped Bust Half Cent.” It was designed by Robert Scot and was in circulation from 1800-1808. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, provided the half cent as the smallest denomination in American coinage, and these cents were expected to be popularly used for commerce, but they very never very popular with the public, and the Coinage Act of 1857 discontinued their production.

  • Front of Draped Bust Half Cent
  • Back of Draped Bust Half Cent

There were also pamphlet in the time capsule that indicated Masonic events. A pamphlet found in the capsule describes the order of the many exercises for the September 20, 1919 laying of the corner stone of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital: some included: A Prayer, said by R.’.W.’. and Rev. C. Wallace Petty, D.D., Grand Chaplain A Presentation of the Box by R.’.W.’. Christopher C. Mollenhauer, Grand Treasurer A Reading of the Contents of the Box by M.’.W.’. Robert J. Kenworthy, Grand Secretary, followed by Music and The Depositing of the Box in the Corner Stone by the Grand Treasurer. There was also a pamphlet that describes the Masonic Meeting on the ship S. S. “Noordam” on July 1, 1919. This pamphlet lists the order of events for this Masonic Meeting: the Prayers, the Chairman’s Address, other Addresses, Songs, and the Roll Call as well as a directory of all the masons who attended the meeting and their Lodges.

  • Corner Stone Laying Program
    September 20, 1919
  • S.S. “Noordam” Masonic Meeting Program
    July 1, 1919

There was a program from the United Grand Lodge of England’s “Peace Jubilee Celebration” from June 23-29, 1919, in London, England at the end of World War I also found in the capsule. The program lists meeting of the Masons in England during this period, and lists some of the site that they visited, such as the House of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral. A letter from September 9, 1919 found in the box states that Grand Secretary Robert H. Robinson included it in the box.

“Peace Jubilee Celebration,” June 23-29, 1919, Program with Letter

Facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption and a Masonic Apron:

Also found in the box was a facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption issued to Dirigo Lodge No. 30 on January 31, 1887 – to exempt Dirigo Lodge No. 30 from paying dues to the New York Grand Lodge since they had already “paid a sum equal to Six Dollars for each Member” to the Grand Lodge (the total was $924.00).

The 1887 Certificate of Exemption issued to Dirigo Lodge No. 30

There was also a Masonic Apron worn at the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Asylum, in Utica, N.Y., on May 21, 1891. According to the Inventory, the Certificate and Apron were donated by R.’.W.’. Aaron Morris, of 175 Fifth Avenue, New York City, who served as the Grand Steward from 1901-1902, and was a member of Dirigo Lodge No. 30 of the 1 st Manhattan District. This explains why he put the Dirigo Certificate in the time capsule.

The 1891 Masonic Apron from the 4th Masonic District

Yearbook and Lodge Event Notice:

Additional items discovered in the box was a 1919 yearbook and Lodge event notice. The yearbook is for St. John’s Lodge No. 1, and lists the Masonic Officers of the Lodge, when the Lodge met in 1919, a directory of their members, and other information. The event notice announces an Address given by Freemason Colonel Walter C. Montgomery, Chief Surgeon of the 27 th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces, at St. John’s Lodge No.1, on April 10, 1919, as a “welcome home” event, where he told his Masonic Brothers stories of his war experiences. Colonel Montgomery was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal during World War I, when, in action along the Hindenburg Line from 25-30 September, 1918, with limited medical personnel he was able to successfully evacuate 4,000 casualties in four days.

The 1919 Yearbook (Left) and the Lodge Event Notice

Copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone:

The box also had a copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone for the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. The entire address (it is thirteen pages long) mainly discusses the larger significance of the corner stone laying, relating it to the history of international and American Freemasonry, as well as the history of hospitals in Western civilization. R.’.W.’. Woelfkin stated:

“So to-day, were are convened in the ceremony of laying a cornerstone. It is a common function which takes place with the erection of every communal or public building, whether devoted to religious, charitable or official usage. But such a ceremony, like Raphael’s painting and Israel’s Passover, has an inside as well as outside meaning. The formal placing of a stone to join the walls, the depositing of a few archives and memorials of our generation, which other generations may or may not read, these are outside features which could be performed without our presence. Why then are we assembled in such numbers and with such formality to witness this common act? We are here for something more than a holiday and the passing exchange of friendly greetings. We bring memory, imagination, conscience, reason and will to this occasion and by a concentration of all these faculties we aim to commune with the invisible and spiritual realities toward which all our symbols point.”

A Copy of the Address from the Laying of the Cornerstone, with the Envelope that it came in

Finally, the last artifact from the time capsule was a weather report from the day of the corner stone laying. This is what it said: “September 20 th , 1919: Nine O’Clock A. M.: Wind southwest. It rained from about One A. M. to Eight A. M. – very high wind. At this writing the wind still continues high – the sky cloudy and looks anything but a promising day for the ceremonies of the laying of the stone. P. S. Eleven O’Clock A. M. Beautifully clear. Every prospect of a sunshining afternoon.”

The Weather Report from September 20, 1919

So now we have reached the bottom of box, this treasure chest of history, frozen in time from the days of Freemasonry one hundred years ago.

Sources Consulted:

*All images (unless otherwise noted) were used Courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge.

One Hundred Years of Service to Humanity. Masonic Home Centennial, 1993.

Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins: A Complete History and Price Guide for the Collector and Investor. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2006.

Yeoman, R. S. Handbook of United States Coins: 2008. (65 th Edition). Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2007.

Subject Files, Biography Files, and Masonic Home Files and the Deceased Grand Lodge Officers and Second Grand Lodge Register, 1832-1853 Card Catalogues *(All from the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge)

“Walter C. Montgomery.” The Hall of Valor Project. Site Accessed 12 November 2019.

“William McKinley: President and Freemason.” Scottish Right Masonic Museum & Library. Site Accessed 12 November, 2019.

“The 46 Star Flag.” This website is dedicated to the Flag of the United States of America. Site Accessed 15 November 2019.

“In Memory of Those Who Died: Formal Exercises in Connection with Laying of Cornerstone of New Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica Takes Place To-Day.” Utica Saturday Globe, 20 September, 1919, Second Section, 5.

“Cornerstone Laying Here On Saturday: Big Masonic Event a Great Honor to City of Utica and Masonic Fraternity—Soldiers and Sailors’ Hospital at Masonic Home a Memorial to Men Who Gave Life and Service to Their Country. Parade Will Be Held Grand Officers Coming.” Utica Herald-Dispatch, Thursday Evening, 18 September, 1919, 2.

Mary Livingston

Image: The Livingston Clermont Estate
Clermont was the Hudson River home of the prominent Livingston family of New York for more than 230 years. Because of the family’s prominent role in support of independence, Clermont was burned by British troops during a foray up the Hudson River in 1777.

Mary Stevens was the daughter of John Stevens and Elizabeth Alexander Stevens, and the granddaughter of New York lawyer and statesman, James Alexander. Mary’s father was a large landowner in the New Jersey counties of Hunterdon, Union, and Somerset, and he owned a copper mine at Rocky Hill. He was a prominent politician from New Jersey, who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1783. Mary’s brother, John Stevens III, was a lawyer and inventor.

Robert R. Livingston Jr. was born in the city of New York on November 27, 1746, the eldest son of Judge Robert Livingston and Margaret Beekman Livingston. Robert Jr. had nine brothers and sisters, all of whom wed and made their homes on the Hudson River near the family estate of Clermont Manor. His great-grandfather came to America in the 1670s with little, but through hard work and a fortuitous marriage soon began building a vast empire. Real estate holdings of the influential and politically active Livingston clan eventually totaled nearly 1 million acres.

Robert was educated by the best teachers of the period, and afterwards at King’s College (now Columbia University), where he graduated in 1764, at the age of eighteen. He studied law under William Smith, the historian of New York, and afterwards in the office of his relative, William Livingston, the distinguished, governor of New Jersey.

Mary Stevens married Robert R. Livingston Jr. on the October 9, 1770. He built a home for himself and his wife just south of Clermont, called Belvedere , which was burned to the ground along with Clermont in 1777 by the British Army. In 1794, he built a new home called New Clermont, which was subsequently renamed Arryl House (a phonetic spelling of his initials, RRL ) which was deemed “the most commodious home in America,” and contained a library of four thousand volumes.

In October 1773, Robert was admitted to the bar, and worked hard, becoming very eminent in his profession, and for a short time was in partnership with his friend, John Jay. Soon after this he was appointed recorder of his native city, and was an early opponent of British oppression, taking an active role in politics. In this situation the Revolution found him, so that both father and son relinquished at the same time important judicial stations to take part with their fellow-patriots in the liberation of their country.

As a member of the New York Provincial Convention of 1775, and a month later, of the Second Continental Congress, Livingston began a steady movement toward supporting American independence, but maintained an equally steady resistance to letting radicals control the Revolution in New York.

The delegates from the colony of New York to the Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in May 1775, were John Jay, John Alsop, James Duane, Philip Schuyler, George Clinton, Lewis Morris, and Robert R. Livingston Jr., who took a leading part in the debates of the Congress. He was on the committee to prepare and report a plan for the confederation of the colonies.

Robert was a member of the Committee of Five responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence, along with Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but he was recalled by his state, and did not sign the document. His appointment was seemingly a political maneuver designed to encourage the equivocating province of New York into a firm commitment to independence.

After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the colony of New York became a State, and Robert R. Livingston Jr. was placed on the committee, with John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, Charles De Witt that drafted the New York Constitution in 1777. He was also a member of a group composed of the governor, the chancellor, and judges of the Supreme Court, which sat to revise all bills about to be passed into law by the Legislature.

In 1779, Livingston resumed his seat in the Continental Congress, and soon became part of the nationalist group, which included Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, and, later, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Upon the creation of the office by Congress, Livingston was appointed the first Minister of Foreign Affairs (Secretary of State) in August 1781. During his 2 years of service as secretary he did all he could to strengthen America’s alliance with France.

He resigned that post in 1783 to accept the appointment of Chancellor of the State of New York, the first person who had ever held that office. It was the highest legal distinction in the State, and he served in that office from 1777 to 1801. He became universally known as The Chancellor, and kept the title as a nickname even after he left the office. In his official capacity, he had the honor of administering the oath of office to George Washington at his inauguration as first President of the United States.

Margaret Beekman Livingston had managed Clermont, the Livingston family, estate during most of the war years, and rebuilt the home between 1779 and 1782. After independence was won, Chancellor Livingston began developing Clermont as an agriculture showplace. Visible across the Hudson River from the house are the high peaks of the Catskill Mountains that inspired the estate’s name: Clermont means clear mountain in French.

Image: Robert R. Livingston Jr.
Chancellor of New York
by John Vanderlyn, ca. 1804

By 1791, Livingston had become a Jeffersonian Republican, in uncomfortable alliance with his old foe Governor Clinton and the energetic newcomer Aaron Burr. At odds with the Jays, Schuylers, Van Rensselaers, and other traditional friends, Livingston began a decade of sometimes lonely, often acrimonious opposition to the Federalists. He fought against Jay’s Treaty and maintained strong Francophile sentiments.

The Jeffersonian Republican Party – better known as the Democratic-Republican Party – evolved in the 1790s, during the early days of George Washington’s presidency. Jefferson and his followers favored states’ rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. They believed that a powerful central government posed a threat to individual liberties. They viewed the United States more as a confederation of sovereign entities woven together by a common interest. In 1798, Robert Livingston Jr. ran for Governor of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket, but was defeated by Governor John Jay, who was re-elected.

Chancellor Livingston concluded his public career as Thomas Jefferson’s Minister to France between 1801 and 1804. On his arrival in France, he was received by Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul, with marked respect and cordiality. Livingston and James Monroe, who had recently joined him in Paris, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, which was signed May 2, 1803. The final deal was $15 million for approximately 828,000 square miles, only pennies an acre. Overnight, the size of the United States doubled. It was the triumph of Livingston’s career.

While he was in France, the Chancellor also entered into a partnership with Robert Fulton, a Pennsylvania-born inventor who shared Livingston’s fascination with steam navigation. Their steamboat, the Clermont , embarked on its maiden voyage between New York City and Albany in 1807, stopping briefly at Clermont Manor, and continued up the Hudson River to Albany – completing in just under 60 hours a journey which had previously taken nearly a week by sloop.

Livingston resigned his diplomatic post in 1804. After touring Europe, he returned to his home in Clermont, and retired from politics. He had a keen interest in farming, and maintained an active correspondence with Jefferson, Washington, and others regarding the latest scientific agricultural methods. Before his death, he also founded and became the first president of the American Academy of Fine Arts and became a trustee of the New York Society Library.

Robert R. Livingston died at Clermont on the Hudson February 26, 1813, at the age of 66. He was buried in the old manor Livingston family vault at Clermont.

Watch the video: Robert Livingston Speech to the New York Provincial Congress of 1775Simulation


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