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David Library lecture explores New Jersey’s first governor

The David Library of the American Revolution presents “Governor William Livingston and the Crossroads of the American Revolution,” a lecture by James J. Gigantino II, Ph.D., at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

The event will be held at the library, 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing. Reservations are required, and can be made at or 215-493-6776 x 100.

Pulling from his recent biography, “William Livingston’s American Revolution,” Gigantino explores how New Jersey’s first governor managed a state government on the war’s front lines.

A wartime bureaucrat, Livingston played a pivotal role in a pivotal place, prosecuting the war on a daily basis for eight years. Such second-tier Founding Fathers as Livingston were the ones who actually administered the war and guided the day-to-day operations of Revolutionary-era governments, serving as the principal conduits between the local wartime situation and the national demands placed on the states.

This examination of Livingston is as much about the position he filled as about the man himself. The reluctant patriot and his roles as governor, member of the Continental Congress, and delegate to the Constitutional Convention quickly became one, as Livingston’s distinctive personality molded his office’s status and reach.

A tactful politician, successful lawyer, writer, satirist, political operative, gardener, soldier and statesman, Livingston became the longest-serving patriot governor during a brutal war that he had not originally wanted to fight or believed could be won. Through the story of Livingston’s life, Gigantino examines the complex nature of the Revolution, and the choice to wage it.

Gigantino serves as an associate professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas. He was a David Library Fellow in the summer of 2011.