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James Wilson - a founding father of the USA

James Wilson was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. One of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, he went on to help write the U.S. Constitution (where he was said to be one of the most able of those doing so) and served as one of the first justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wilson was born near St Andrews on September 14, 1742, and went to the university there, also studying at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities before deciding, at the age of 23 to seek his fortune in the American colonies. He studied law and in 1767 was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar.

Over the next two decades, Wilson wrote political pamphlets that brought him national attention and launched his public career. In 1774 in a widely read pamphlet, he argued that the American colonies should be free from the rule of British.

His writing soon led to involvement in the planning for American independence. He represented Pennsylvania at the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Receiving a commission as colonel in May 1775, Wilson raised a battalion of and for a short time took an active part in the military campaign, but his
principal achievements were in Congress.

He was appointed to write two addresses to 'the inhabitants of the United States' urging for their firm support of the cause of Independence. Known as one of the most prominent lawyers of his time, Wilson is credited with being the most learned of the framers of the constitution.

Wilson's most lasting impact on the country came as member of the Committee Of Detail, which produced the first draft of the United States Constitution, where he was one of those who argued the case for senators and the president being popularly elected.

Wilson was also closely associated with organising the Bank of North America, and was made one of the directors. In 1789 Washington appointed him associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He continued to serve as associate justice until his death, near Edenton, North Carolina, in 1798.

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