#Onthisday in 1757 Battles of Saratoga veteran and Supreme Court Justice Henry Brockholst Livingston was born in New York City. A
His first experience was as a gentleman volunteer in a boat cutting-out expedition under his uncle, Colonel Lord Stirling, in Jan.,1776, when that officer captured the British transport Blue Mountain Valley Northern campaign,1776,1777, when he served as Aide to General Schuyler, and volunteer Aide to Generals St.Clair and Arnold.
”Under the latter he took part in the Battle of Freeman’s Farm,19 Sept.,1777, “prior to this engagement, he had been the bearer of despatches to Continental Congress, announcing the “signal victory” of Brigadier Stark at Bennington, 16 Aug.,1777; when it was proposed that Major Livingston, Aide to General Schuyler, who brought to Congress an account of the late success of Brigadier Stark, be presented with a commission of Lieutenant Colonel. Owing, however, to the requisite number of votes, required in cases of promotion, not being obtained, “the question was lost,” and it was, “after debate ordered to be expunged, and the matter referred to the Board of War.”
”New England dislike of General Schuyler was evidently here as on why the question of promotion was shelved on this occasion. Major Livingston also got into trouble with General Gates, owing to his championship of General Arnold, to whom he ascribed “the sole honour of our late victory, “that of the 19 Sept.'” He, therefore left the camp for Albany, on the twenty sixth of that month, to rejoin his old commander, General Schuyler, “Eight days later the Continental Congress promotes him to “the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel as a reward for his merit and services in the American Army.”
”He was granted leave of absence to accompany his brother-in-law, John Jay, as his private secretary, on his mission to Spain, 15 Oct., 1779. Returning to America he was captured at sea, 25 April, 1782, and confined in the provost at New York, until the arrival of Sir Guy Carleton a few days later, who at once released him on his parole.”
Henry Brockholst Livingston was the son of Governor William Livingston of New Jersey and was born on November 25, 1757. A classmate of James Madison, he graduated from Princeton in 1774. At the outbreak of the American War of Independence, Livingston joined the 3rd New York Regiment and participated in the siege of Ticonderoga. He served on the staff of General Philip Schuyler. Then he served as an aide to General Benedict Arnold in the Saratoga campaign, and witnessed British General John Burgoyne’s surrender of a complete army in 1777. In 1779, Livingston served on a diplomatic mission to Spain as private secretary to John Jay. On his return voyage, he was captured by the British. He was later paroled, whereupon he commenced his legal studies in the law office of Peter Yates in Albany.
Admitted to the bar in 1783, he practiced law in New York City from 1783 to 1802, and was a counsel for the defense in the landmark case of Rutgers v. Waddington (1784). Brockholst Livingston was appointed an Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court of Judicature on January 8, 1802. During the years 1802 to 1806, he wrote 149 opinions, including a famous dissent in the fox hunting case of Pierson v. Post (1805).
On December 15, 1806, Henry Brockholst Livingston was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Thomas Jefferson. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1806, and served on the Supreme Court from then until his death. A recognized expert in maritime law, prize law and commercial law, he was considered one of the “silent” members of the Court.
Although he wrote few opinions, he was known for his scholarly observations, good humor and quick wit. He had a reputation for easing the tensions among the Justices that threatened to divide the Court.
In 1818, he was conferred with an LL.D. by Harvard College. Henry Brockholst Livingston died in Washington, DC, on March 19, 1823.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Henry Brockholst Livingston that help define this country and our community. It is the determination of our forefathers, in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.