The Macksey Journal


Through the analysis of the writings and library of New Jersey’s first elected governor, William Livingston, I will connect the origins of the political beliefs of an American Founding Father to the Greco-Roman writers and texts that he read. Livingston’s book list contained dozens of classical authors, and his weekly essays in “The Independent Reflector” provide his opinions on the workings of government and public institutions. Nearly every essay found in his weekly publication begins with a quote from antiquity, and he justified his thoughts with these statements from the ancient world. Understanding Livingston’s beliefs and connecting them to his cited authors of antiquity will provide further information on the influence of ancient history, its ideals, and its politics on the concepts of the American founders. Comparing Livingston’s use of direct quotations of Greek and Roman authors to the content of the classical books held in his library will aid in understanding the ideas that emerged in his political thought. The evidence from Livingston’s essays and book list reconstructs a picture of the classically-influenced ideals of an American Founding Father and the formation of the United States in ways that continue to connect the ancient world to the present.