Livingston was established on February 27, 1837. It was formed from parts of McLean, LaSalle, and Iroquois counties, and named after Edward Livingston, a prominent politician who was mayor of New York City and represented New York in the United States House of Representatives and Louisiana in both houses of Congress. He later served as Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State and as Minister to France. Although he had no connections to Illinois, the General Assembly found him accomplished enough to name a county after him.
As of the census of 2000, there were 39,678 people, 14,374 households, and 9,946 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 15,297 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.32% White, 5.17% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.22% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. 2.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 35.6% were of German, 15.4% American, 12.4% Irish and 7.5% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 96.8% spoke English and 2.4% Spanish as their first language.