1742 - The American statesman and jurist James Wilson was born in or near St. Andrews, Scotland, on the 14th of September.
1757 - He matriculated at the University of St. Andrews and was subsequently a student at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
1765-1767 - He emigrated to America. Landing at New York in June, he went to Philadelphia in the following year and was instructor of Latin in the college of Philadelphia, later the university of Pennsylvania.
- He studied law in the office of John Dickinson, was admitted to the bar, removed first to Reading and soon afterward to Carlisle, and rapidly rose to prominence.
1771 - Married to Rachel Bird.
1774 - August, he published a pamphlet Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, in which he argued that parliament had no constitutional power to legislate for the colonies; this pamphlet strongly influenced members of the Continental Congress which met in September.
1775 - Wilson was a delegate to the Pennsylvania provincial convention in January, and he sustained there the right of Massachusetts to resist the change in its charter, declaring that as the force which the British Government was exercising to compel obedience was "force unwarranted by any act of parliament, unsupported by any principle of the common law, unauthorized by any commission from the crown", resistance was justified by "both the letter and the spirit of the British constitution"; he also, by his speech, led the colonies in shifting the burden of responsibility from parliament or the king's ministers to the king himself.
- Wilson became a member of the Continental Congress.
1776 - He was appointed a member of a committee to prepare an address to the colonies, and the address was written by him.
- He was a member of the Board of War from its establishment until his retirement from Congress.
1777 - He served on a similar committee in May, and wrote the address To the Inhabitants of the United States, urging their firm support of the cause of Independence; he drafted the plan of treaty with France together with instructions for negotiating it.
- He was chairman of the Committee on Appeals, to hear and determine appeals from the courts of admiralty in the several states; and he was a member of many other important committees.
1793 - Married to Hannah Gray.
1798 - Died on August 28th.
Page last updated: 10:42pm, 28th Mar '07