Legal Scholar. Ironmaster. Signer of Declaration
James Wilson was one of six men who signed both the U.
S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He
was perhaps the most remarkable of all the nationís
Founding Fathers. ■ Wilson was a distinguished political
theorist, politician, constitutional lawyer, member of
congress, monetary theorist, manufacturer, and justice
of the first U. S. Supreme Court. ■ He was born on a
farm in Fifeshire, Scotland, September 14, 1742. He
attended St. Andrews University and at 23 immigrated to
the American colonies arriving in Philadelphia in the
exciting days preceding the American Revolution. ■ He
taught Greek and rhetoric at the College of Philadelphia
before turning to the study of law. His writings on the
American-British relationship stirred the colonies and
put him on a peer level with men like Jefferson and
Adams. ■ Wilson was in the forefront of the
revolutionary movement and was one of the first to sign
boldly the Declaration of Independence. He was one of
the most important businessmen to sign and his
production of iron for war contributed greatly to the
American cause. ■ Wilson was profoundly impressed by the
American dilemma of how to establish viable central
authority so necessary if the Union were to endure while
at the same time preserving the local rights the
American people insisted on. ■ The American
Constitution, to which he contributed substantially and
which he signed, reflected his concern and holds his
solution to the central authority-local rights dilemma.
■ As the nationís foremost legal scholar of his time,
Wilson was appointed associate justice of the U. S.
Supreme Court by President Washington. He died in
Edenton, North Carolina, August 21, 1798.