James Wilson was outspoken and never was afraid to share his opinions, he was essential in shaping our nation. Born one of seven children in Scotland, Wilson always had ambition for success and wealth and would let nothing get in the way of it. He would receive a profound education as a child, having many scholarships, but eventually decided to devote his intelligence and leadership to the United States where it was much needed. Haven spoken over 165 times at the Constitutional Convention, Wilson is ranked one of the most active participants. He would not only use the quantity of his words to propose his brilliant ideas, but the quality of them. Wilson was not only a contributor to the Convention, but one of six signers of the Declaration. James Wilson’s well-spoken ideas and opinions at the Constitutional Convention had an immense impact on shaping our nation. James Wilson was born on 1742 at Carskerdo Scotland.
Wilson had hard-working parents, who earned just enough money to put food on the table for his family. Despite the struggle, Wilson would receive a satisfactory education from Culpar Grammar school. He would excel in academics and eventually received a scholarship to the University of St. Andrews at age 15. Wilson would continue his studies at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow where he would learn about the people involved with the Scottish Enlightenment after he graduated from St.Andrews in 1762. Wilsons thorough education and appetite to learn would serve him well for many years to come, especially once he moved to America.Wilson’s hard work ethic and determination would allow his political career to take off quickly.
Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, Wilson first found a tutoring position at the College of Philadelphia, which would become soon become a teaching position. He would petition for a degree and eventually given an honorary in Masters of Arts. Wilson would abandon his work there temporarily, as he saw more potential in studying law under John Dickinson. Using his intelligence learned from John Dickinson, Wilson would establish his own law practice in the city, Reading. His fame in doing this would spread outside of America as he would travel to eight different countries to handle cases. Overall, he would find great success and wealth in doing this, thanks to his brilliance in business.In 1774 Wilson was elected to the Committee of Correspondence at Carlisle and attended the first provisional assembly.
Wilson was undergoing the Revolutionary era of politics however as always, he expressed various notions and ideas on the topic. In part, he was able to accomplish this by publishing a pamphlet named “Considerations on the Nature Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament.” Through this pamphlet, Wilson would challenge Britain’s authority over the colonies. He would argue that the Britain Parliament should have no right to pass law for the American colonies only because the colonies had no representation in the Parliament. Another contribution Wilson had during the Revolution was when he was a member of the Continental Congress.
At this period of time, Wilson was a very strong advocate for independence. However, he refused to vote for independence until he caused his district because he believed that it was his responsibility to follow the wishes of his constituents. James Wilson’s helping hand in the Revolution had a vast impact on the colonies.James Wilson would speak several times at the Convention proposing and voicing his new democratic principles. Wilson saw the 13 colonies as undergoing a period of time in which we were changing the government.
He believed that the government should rely on the people in many ways as well as involve the people to make an overall more powerful government system. In this concept, he would suggest that the communication and connection between the people of a colony and their representatives should be very straightforward as well as direct. He had a few justifications on this broad topic however, there is one quote that stood out.
“The government should possess not only the force… but the mind or sense of the people at large (Carey, George. James Wilson: Political Thought and the Constitutional Convention p.1). Expanding on this idea, Wilson had no tolerance for state institutions to intervene between the national government and the people of the country. He says this because he believed this would counter his original plan of having a direct communication between the people and representatives.Along with Wilson’s democratic principles, he also brought up some national principles at the Convention. He made it clear that he would like to have a governmental system in which the national government was self-reliant from the state governments. Wilson explains that dependence could create “a disposition in the plurality of States to confederate anew on better principles, to be defeated by the inconsiderate or selfish opposition of a few States.
” (Carey, George. James Wilson: Political Thought and the Constitutional Convention p.1).Despite that Wilson’s contributions about a new system of government were strong, his most known and impactful contribution was the 3/5ths Compromise.
The 3/5ths compromise would count each slave as 3/5ths as a person. This topic was very important and relevant at the time because there were arguments over how, or if slave population would be counted while deciding a states total population towards representation or taxation. The population was a the deciding factor in how many representatives states were allowed to have.
With this compromise in effect, it would have given the southern states a third more of seats in Congress than before. Fundamentally, this would give southern states more power and representation in the House of Representatives.