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James Wilson (1742–1798)


Bushrod Washington, who read law in James Wilson's Philadelphia offices from 1782 to 1783, replaced Wilson on the U.S. Supreme Court.


James Wilson, the only man to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born to modest circumstances on 14 September 1742 at Carskerdo farm, near Ceres, Scotland. In 1765 he immigrated to Pennsylvania, where he read law under John Dickinson (17321808). He then established a successful legal practice, first in Reading, then in Carlisle, and later in Philadelphia.


"James Wilson." Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. Gale In Context: U.S. History, Accessed 18 Dec. 2023.

Mark D. Hall, "James Wilson: Democratic Theorist and Supreme Court Justice," in Scott Douglas Gerber, ed., Seriatim: The Supreme Court Before John Marshall (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 126–54.

The Substance of a Speech Delivered by James Wilson, Esq. Explanatory of the General Principles of the Proposed Faederal Constitution; upon a Motion Made by the Honorable Thomas M’Kean, in the Convention of the State of Pennsylvania. On Saturday the 24th of November, 1787 (Philadelphia: Thomas Bradford, 1787).

Stephen A. Conrad, "Wilson, James," in Kermit L. Hall, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Stephen Conrad, "Wilson, James (1742–1798)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).

James Wilson at Federal Judicial Center.

James Wilson at Find a Grave.

James Wilson at FamilySearch.