Friday, November 27, 2009


The moon faced fellow above is our 99th hero of the day. His name is Robert R. Livingston born this day in 1746 in New York City, New York. For most people he will be a rather odd, obscure choice, but he did have a fairly important political career. He was one of the five men that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence, he was the first Chancellor of the State of New York, and as such was the man who administered the oath of office to one George Washington as America's first President. In fact, the Bible he used to swear in old Georgie is still available, by request, to be used to swear in Presidents today. But the achievement that elevates him to hero status was accomplished during his three years in Paris from 1801-1804. It was during this time that he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from the French government of Napoleon. The total purchase price was about 15 million dollars, and for that princely sum the United States got 828,000 square miles of territory. Land that was to encompass part of (what would be) 14 U S states, and the city of New Orleans was thrown in to boot. The average cost of this massive land sale was less than 3 cents per acre. Not a bad deal if you can swing it, and Livingston and his pals swung it, in spite of some narrow minded opposition, and their bargain doubled the size of the United States at the time. Old Bob was quoted as saying afterwards that "We have lived long but this is the noblest work of our whole lives...The United States take rank this day among the first powers of the world." And right he was, the Louisiana Purchase put, for good or bad, old Uncle Sam on the road to world power. The major thing I am grateful for in regards to this massive real estate sale is the that the state right across the river from where I live, i.e. Arkansas, was a part of the deal. Certainly I am not a huge fan of ArKANSAS, but at least it beats living next to a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys. Even this coup was not M. Livingston's last contribution to the betterment of humankind. He, along with some fellow named Robert Fulton, helped to develop the first steamboat, named the Clermont. And if you wonder where the name came from, Clermont was the family home (and home port of the boat itself) of M. Livingston. So for buying so much land dirt cheap, no pun intended, and for help to make steam power viable so Americans could soon fill in all that land he bought from the foolish French, Robert R. Livingston (November 27th, 1746- February 26th, 1813, at the age of 66), you are my hero of the day.

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