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his distinguished patriot was born in Scotland in 1742, and emigrated to this country in 1766. He had received his education under some of the best teachers in Edinburgh, and he brought with
him such strong recommendations to eminent citizens of Philadelphia, that he soon obtained a situation as an assistant teacher in the Philadelphia college, then under the supervision of the Reverend Doctor Peters. In the course of a few months he commenced the study of law in the office of the eminent John Dicken
son,* and after two years' close application, he established himself in business, first in Reading and afterward in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He finally fixed his permanent residence in Philadelphia. He rapidly rose to eminence in his profession, and became distinguished as an ardent supporter of the republican cause whenever an opportunity presented itself.
Having adopted America as his home, Mr. Wilson espoused her cause with all the ardor of a native born citizen. This gave him great popularity, and in 1774, he was elected a member of the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania. In May, 1775, he was chosen a delegate to the General Congress, together with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Willing. He was again elected for the session of 1776, and warmly supported the motion of Richard Henry Lee for absolute independence. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Disenthralment and remained an active member of Congress until 1777, when he and Mr. Clymer were not re-elected in consequence of the operations of a strong party spirit which at that time existed in the Pennsylvania Assembly.
Mr. Wilson, however, continued actively engaged for the public good, even in private life, nor did he allow that jealousy of his rising fame, which had interposed a barrier to his re-election, in the least to repress his zeal for his adopted country's welfare. He had been an indefatigable coadjutor with Mr. Smith in the organization of volunteer military corps, and was elected colonel of a regiment in 1774. The
energy he there displayed was now again exerted in raising recruits for the Continental army, and through
* Mr. Dickenson was at that time one of the most eminent lawyers in America. He was a powerf writer, and his “Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer" were very instrumental in bringing on that crisis in public affairs in the Colonies which brought about the Revolution. He was always opposed to the proposition for independence, and would have voted against it if he had been in his seat on the fourth of July, 1776. His earnest desire was to obtain justice for America, without dismembering the British empire.
his influence, the Pennsylvania line was much strengthened.
In 1777, difficulties having arisen with the Indians within the bounds of the state, Mr. Wilson was sent as a commissioner to treat with them, and he was successful in his undertaking. Soon after the arrival of Mr. Gerard, the French minister,* Mr. Wilson formed an acquaintance with him, which ripened into friendship, and Mr. Gerard was so struck with the versatility of his talents, that in 1780 he appointed him the Advocate General of the French nation in the United States, an office which required a thorough knowledge of international and commercial laws. The appointment was confirmed by the French King in 1781.7
Toward the close of 1782, Mr. Wilson was again elected a delegate to the General Congress, and took his seat in January, 1783. During that year, the executive council of Pennsylvania, appointed him an agent and counsellor in the controversy of that state with Connecticut, respecting the Wyoming domain. In this important service he was very successful, and the matter brought to an amicable settlement. He was again elected to Congress toward the close of 1785, and took his seat in March following. He was an active member of the convention that framed the Federal Constitution in 1787, and was chairman of the committee that reported the first draft. He was also a member of the state convention that ratified it, and was chosen to deliver an oration on
* As soon as France, by the treaty of February, 1777, openly deelared in favor of the United States, she promptly commenced the fulfilment of her agreement, by fitting out a fleet of twelve sail of the line, and sent them to America, under Count D'Estaing. She also appointed a minister (Mr. Gerard) to Congress, and he came with the French fleet, and was landed at Sandy Hook, in July of that year.
† Mr. Gerard stipulated with Mr. Wilson, that an annual salary should be allotted him ; but after his devotion to his duties for some time, he received a notification from the French King, that it was not his pleasure to sanction that stipu. lation. Mr. Wilson at once resigned the office, justly complaining of bad treatment.
the occasion of a celebration of the event in Philadelphia. He was also a member of the convention that framed a new constitution for Pennsylvania in 1788. In the arrangement of the judiciary under the Federal Constitution, President Washington appointed Mr. Wilson one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States.
He was appointed the first Professor of Law in the College of Philadelphia, in 1790, and when, in 1792, that institution and the University of Pennsylvania were united, he was appointed to the same professorship there, which office, as well as that of Judge of the Supreme Court, he held until his death.
In 1791, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives chose him, by a unanimous vote, to revise and properly digest the laws of the state. He at once entered
the duties assigned him, and had made a considerable progress in the arduous work, when his labors were arrested by the Senate refusing to concur in the object for which the appointment had been made. His task was never resumed.
In his official capacity as judge of the United States Supreme Circuit Court, he frequently made long journeys into other states. It was while on a judicial circuit in North Carolina, that his death occurred on the twentyeighth day of August, 1798, at the house of his friend, Judge Iredell of Edenton. He was in the fifty-sixth year
For many years, Mr. Wilson stood at the head of the Philadelphia bar, and so popular was he as an advocate, that nearly every important case that came before the higher tribunals of that State was defended by him. As a patriot none was firmer; as a Christian none sincerer ; and as a husband, father, neighbor and friend, he was beloved and esteemed in the highest degree.
of his age.
EORGE Ross was born in New Castle, Delaware, in the year 1730. His father was a highly esteemed minister of the Episcopal Church in that town, and he educated his son with much care, hav
ing himself experienced the great advantage of a liberal education. He soon became very pro. ficient in Latin and Greek, and at the age of eighteen years entered, as a student, the law office of his brother, then a respectable member of the Philadelphia bar. He