This work is signed twice by Wilson, both on the front free endpaper and on the title-page; both signatures have been scored through by subsequent owners.
James Wilson (1742–1798) was born in Scotland and educated in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He emigrated to American and became a tutor at the College of Philadelphia and assistant to Pennsylvania lawyer John Dickinson. He practiced law in Reading and Carlisle, and became a force in Pennsylvania politics. In 1774, he published Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament," an influential revolutionary pamphlet. Wilson was twice elected to the Continental Congress and served concurrently as a brigadier general in the state militia. Like other Pennsylvanians in Congress, including his mentor, Dickinson, Wilson was pressured by his constituents to forestall declaring independence. Wilson himself eventually changed his mind, voting for and signing the Declaration. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he sat on the Committee of Detail, which produced the first draft. He proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise and was, next to James Madison, the most active participant in the Convention. Wilson was a major proponent for ratification in Pennsylvania, which became the second state to approve the new constitution in 1787. President Washington named him as one of the six original justices of the Supreme Court.
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