Influence of James Wilson

Topics: United States, Separation of powers, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 6 (2420 words) Published: May 6, 2014
Jalen Gilmore
Pols 303
Dr. Cody
4/14/2014

James Wilson’s Influence

James Wilson is one of the most influential men in the United States of America’s History. “Scholars familiar with the writings and career of James Wilson are struck by the discrepancy between the status accorded hum by most constitutional historians and the magnitude of his contributions to our founding” (49.The Political Science Reviewer XVII). Wilson was present at the beginning of the United States’ History. He was a member of both Continental Congresses, a signer at the Declaration of Independence, a delegate of Pennsylvania Congress, Pennsylvania representative at the Constitutional Convention, and one of the first justices to the United States Supreme Court. James Wilson was born in 1742 in Scotland. Wilson earned his collegiate degree from University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Wilson initially intended to be ordained a minister. However, the death of his father lead Wilson to find a job in the colonies. Once in the colonies Wilson begin to study law and then used his law background to start a career in politics. Wilson’s first essay in politics was called “Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament” (1. Penn Gazette May-June 2011). In this essay Wilson outlined why the British Parliament cannot rule in the colonies. Wilson argued British Parliament has no right interfering in the affairs of the colonies because they do not have the consent of the governed. Only the British Monarchy can and should have any constitutional relationship with the colonies. In 1775, Wilson was elected to the 2nd Continental Congress as a representative of Pennsylvania. Wilson later signed the declaration of independence. However, he was hesitant because the middle states differed on opinion of whether to stay British or form their own country. Eventually Wilson did sign the declaration of independence; thus, breaking the deadlock and making Pennsylvania vote for independence. James Wilson was a very democratic political thinker. Wilson believed that government should draw its authority and legitimate power from its people. A sound government must also “Ensure that their rights and safeguards were properly safeguarded” (48.History Today 30.9). In other words, a government that does not serve the interests of the people, ought to be uprooted. Wilson believed that people are at the heart of government’s purpose; therefore, government should protect the interests of its people. Wilson’s democratic principles can be understood in terms of liberty, equality, and diversity. In the terms of liberty, Wilson believed that every man has “a natural impulse to exercise his own powers for his own happiness” (66. The Political Science Reviewer XVII). According to Wilson, every man possesses the ability to find their own happiness in life. Wilson believed that all men were not created equal in terms of their abilities or property. Wilson believed that all men were created equal in terms of the rights and obligations that existed for them in civil government. Wilson believed in diversity in terms of the majority and the minority. Wilson believes that majority rule is “most reasonably” because it is representative of most of the people. The minority are also bound to follow the majority since “they [the minority] are bound by their consent originally given to the establishment of the society, for the purposes which it was intended to accomplish” (68. The Political Science Reviewer XVII). In a government if people are in the minority, Wilson believes that they do not have the right to revolt against government. James Wilson was a firm believer in a government where power is drawn from the people. When governmental draws its authority from its citizens, Wilson believes it is an efficient government. An efficient government is the ultimate goal of Wilson’s democratic principles. For Wilson, an efficient government is one...
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