Friday, May 14, 2010

William Livingston February 18, 1778

Here I've uploaded another Livingston address. Footnote 3 to the Feb. 4, 1778 address seemed to indicate that BOTH of these pieces were "inserted" by Mathew Carey in Dec. 1788 to the "American Museum." The pieces were given under Livingston's name and dated 1778.

I'll try to track down some more info and answer when exactly and in whose hand these addresses were written.

The dates are important because, as we will see, some of the arguments here strikingly parallel those in Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, written in 1785.

It's also interesting to see how the anti-clerical, pro-religious liberty, anti-establishment rhetoric is used to support the New York/New Jersey plan on religion and government (too often we focus on Virginia or the Massachusetts models only).

Livingston 3

Livingston 4

Livingston 5


Tom Van Dyke said...

If you're looking for a reply on this, Jon, a summary of your links and why Livingston was influential is required first. Otherwise, they're worth reading only out of academic curiosity.

James H. Hutson disputes that Madison's Memorial and Remonstance swung the day atall in any "secular" way---it was the minority Baptists of Virginia [a minority in Episcopalian/Anglican/Church of England Virginia who swung the day, perhaps afraid that the Episcopalians would become legally entitled to define what "Christianity" meant.

That was a brilliant political and logical argument, and it appears Madison's argument on that point had traction with the Virginia Baptists.

But on religion and the Founding, and even the Framing of the Constitution, the "Father of the Constitution" James Madison lost many battles, including his "Virginia Plan," which was shot down from the first, as well as his proposed wording of the First Amendment. And he lost on US gov't-paid chaplains for the military and Congress itself too.

There were plenty more Founders and Framers than James Madison who tweaked Madison's brilliant ideas when they weren't voting him down completely. That's a key argument against the "key" Founders hermeneutic. The Founding had hundreds of Founders, all the way down from the framers to the ratifiers in the individual states.

Where that leaves Livingston, I dunno, but if Madison often found himself in the minority despite his brilliant arguments and proposals, Livingston's just a blip on the radar.

[I have read your links; so far Livingston is a major voice---or at least a loud one---against the Church of England appointing [or importing] its own bishops to or for America. Even if Livingston himself was a Calvinist/Presbyterian/whathaveyou.

I'm reading your links as much as I can, Jon, perhaps and so far the only one hereabouts who is...

Jonathan Rowe said...

When I have more time I do plan on doing a comparison between Madison's and Jefferson's VA documents and these. The point is NOT to prove anything in favor of the "secular" side, but rather explore whether Livingston deserves credit for anticipating ideas that Jefferson and Madison then used.

I know we could argue it all goes back to Locke. To some extent it does. But Madison and Jefferson didn't just regurgitate Locke. They built their own particular arguments on a Lockean base. What I see in Livingston are Jeffersonian and Madisonian (not just "Lockean") arguments. That is arguably before Jefferson and Madison made them.

That might be why I got tripped up over the dates. I'm pretty sure these arguments were made by Livingston in 1778 and simply reproduced by Carey in 1788.