|David Barton – 09/10/2015|
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Signer of the Constitution
Original Justice of the United States Supreme Court
James Wilson had a great influence during the American Founding but has been called “the lost Founder” because of his relative modern obscurity.
He was born to a poor family in Scotland 273 years ago today (on September 14, 1742), but managed to attend universities in Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh. At the age of 21, he immigrated to America and soon began tutoring at Philadelphia College. He studied law under John Dickinson, a fellow member of the Constitutional Convention. 
In 1768, he wrote a pamphlet arguing for American independence but it considered too radical for the times. When public opinion later shifted, it was finally published. Thomas Jefferson copied portions of it for his own use, and it is conceivable that parts of Wilson’s essay even influenced the language of the Declaration. Compare the similarity of Wilson’s writing with the wording of the Declaration:
Wilson served as a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress, where he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. He later was a member of the Constitutional Convention, where he signed the Constitution. 
Under the new federal government, President George Washington appointed Wilson as an original justice on the U. S. Supreme Court, where he served for 9 years until his death on August 28, 1798. He was buried at Christ Church in Philadelphia. 
Over recent years, the federal courts have become particularly unfriendly to Christianity and religious faith, but it was not that way under Justice Wilson. In fact, Wilson started America’s first organized legal training while he served on the Court, and he told students:
 Nicholas Pederson, “The Lost Founder: James Wilson in American
Memory,” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, Vol. 22, Is. 2, Art. 3, (May 8, 2013). See also, Robert K. Wright, Jr. and Morris J. MacGregor, Jr., “James Wilson: Pennsylvania,” Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution (Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., 1987).
 L. Carroll Judson, A Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence(Philadelphia : J. Dobson, and Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1839), p. 130-131. See also, “James Wilson, Pennsylvania,” Charters of Freedom: America’s Founding Fathers(accessed September 8, 2015).