Delegates to the Constitutional Convention:James Wilson


James WilsonState: Pennsylvania (Born in Scotland, immigrated 1765)

Age at Convention: 45

Date of Birth: September 14, 1742

Date of Death: August 28, 1798

Schooling: He attended Universities of Saint Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, Honorary MA from the College of Philadelphia 1766

Occupation: Lawyer, Public Security Interests, Real Estate and Land Speculation, Latin Tutor at College of Philadelphia

Prior Political Experience: Signed the Declaration of Independence 1776, Advocate General for France in America 1779-1783, Confederation Congress 1782-1783 & 1785-1787

Committee Assignments: Committee of Detail, Committee of State Commitments

Convention Contributions: Arrived May 25 and was present through the signing of the Constitution. He spoke often and with much fervor on behalf of a strong central government that nevertheless conformed to majoritarian principles. William Pierce stated that “no man is more clear than, copious and comprehensive than Mr. Wilson, yet he is no great Orator.”

New Government Participation: He was the only Pennsylvania delegate to attend the Pennsylvania ratifying convention and supported the ratification of the Constitution. His State House speech delivered on October 6, 1787 defined the strategy of the Federalist party and became the most criticized document during the ratification debates. President Washington nominated and the Senate confirmed him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1789 – 1798).



The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia. This is the story of the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Convention

Read the four-act drama and day-by-day summary by Gordon Lloyd, as well as Madison’s account of the Convention Debates.

Interactive Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century

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Multimedia Resources

Watch video explanations of Dr. Lloyd’s view on the Convention. is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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