Janet Livingston Montgomery - Aristocrat and Estate Creator

Janet Livingston Montgomery

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Aristocrat and Estate Creator

Daughter of Margaret Beekman Livingston and Robert R. Livingston, Janet Montgomery was born into a rich and powerful New York family known for its vast landholdings.

Her relatives used this Hudson Valley land to build the family’s fortune. The Livingstons added value to the land by renting it to tenant farmers with the stipulation that it be developed, by cultivating wheat on a commercial scale, and by establishing extractive industries such as the Ancram Furnace, where white workers and enslaved Africans produced iron from local ore. When Janet wed the Anglo-Irish soldier Richard Montgomery in 1773, she brought considerable wealth to the marriage.

The Livingstons, a Patriot family, suffered many trials during the American Revolution. These including the burning of Janet’s childhood home “Clermont” by British soldiers. In the years after the war, Janet’s relatives worked to repair the family’s seat of power as they strengthened their political position through public service. For example, Janet’s brother Robert administered the oath of office to the United States’ first president, George Washington, and for negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, America’s largest land deal. Janet’s brothers Robert and Edward, and brother-in-law John Armstrong, served as ambassadors to France.

Margaret Beekman Livingston, by Gilbert Stuart. Oil on canvas, c. 1794. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

Chancellor Robert Livingston, by Gilbert Stuart. Oil on canvas, c. 1794. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

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