George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 31 January 1790]

Sunday 31st. Went to St. Pauls Chapel in the forenoon.

Mr. Wilson, one of the Associate Judges of the Supreme Court paid his respects to me after I returned from Church.

Spent the Afternoon in writing Letters to Mount Vernon.

James Wilson (1742–1798) was born in Scotland and educated at the universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. He immigrated to America c.1765 and studied law in Philadelphia with John Dickinson. Admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in Nov. 1767, he began what was to be an outstanding legal career. He was elected to the Continental Congress 1775–76, 1782–83, and 1785–87. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, he was particularly adept in advancing legal justifications for independence. Wilson was a leading member of the Constitutional Convention and the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention. In Sept. 1789 GW appointed him an associate justice of the Supreme Court although Wilson had earlier solicited the post of chief justice (Wilson to GW, 21 April 1789, PHi: Society Collection).

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