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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Philip Livingston: Excellence In Dignity

The Elegant Livingston
Philip Livingston (15 Jan. 1716-12 June 1778), was born into wealth and privilege by Calvinist parents, "the son of Philip Livingston, a merchant and proprietor of "Livingston Manor," and Catrina Van Brugh." Like his brothers, Livingston was a conservative whig, who feared chaos as a result from rebelling against Great Britain. He was:
An elder and a deacon of the Dutch Reformed church, Livingston was also a benefactor of New York's Anglican King's College and of the city's Presbyterian and Methodist congregations.
-Cynthia A. Kierner, Traders and Gentlefolk: The Livingstons of New York, 1675-1790 (1992)

The Livingston's supported Calvinism:
Cadwalader Colden was not the only Tory politician to observe with some asperity that all the popular leaders of his day were both lawyers and Presbyterians. That supreme conception of law and justice which is inherent in the creed of Calvin was the mainspring of the whole popular party in New York, just as it was the mainspring of the whole polity in New England. Without this leaven, New York colonial politics would have lacked form and direction and would have been little more than a puerile scramble of petty oligarchies..In ecclesiastical matters, the Livingstons and their comrades were sturdy Calvinists.
-Levermore, Charles H. The Whigs of Colonial New York American Historical Review 1 (January 1896): 238-50

It makes perfect sense, as pre-eminent 19th Century secular historian, George Bancroft declared, "Calvin founded America." Government in New York or anywhere, without the ideals promoted by Puritan Republicanism, could have squelched the Revolution. Calvin brought about: written constitutions, separation of powers, regular elections, the secret ballot, the federalist principle, religious toleration and separation of church and state.

He signed the Declaration of Independence, yet, did not live to see a free United States.

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