James Wilson papers
This collection of Wilson’s papers, housed in sixteen boxes, four volumes, and two flat files consists of original documents and a full set of photocopies of the original papers. Some of the original papers have been microfilmed. Because the original papers were once housed in volumes, each box is...
|Collection:||James Wilson Papers|
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Processing Information: Original pages from Volume 2, pages 58-64, containing some of Wilson's legal notes and a possible Constitutional draft, have been removed from the collection. Please see an HSP librarian if you wish to look at these pages.
6.4 Linear feet ; 16 boxes, 4 volumes, 2 flat files
Researchers are asked to please use the service copies in Boxes 1-7 prior to consulting the original documents. The original deeds and legal papers in Boxes 8-9 are open for use without restriction.
This collection of Wilson’s papers, housed in sixteen boxes, four volumes, and two flat files consists of original documents and a full set of photocopies of the original papers. Some of the original papers have been microfilmed. Because the original papers were once housed in volumes, each box is labeled with old volume numers and each item retains old volume and page numbers. These same numbers have been transferred to the photocopies. On occasion, some pages are notes as "missing," denoting what were once blank pages in the volumes.
The collection contains material on the early federal government and on Wilson's business and professional activities. There are drafts of the Constitution and a corrected copy of the same from 1787; notes of debates and resolutions in the Constitutional Convention; drafts of treaties, memoranda on regulation of immigration, and establishment of the national bank; and business correspondence. Other materials include letters and miscellaneous documents; deeds and wills; surveys and maps of lands in Pennsylvania; articles of agreement, bonds and accounts; and letters of Mary Wilson Hollingsworth from 1801-1812. Besides the letters of Mrs. Hollingsworth, the collection contains other scattered material that dates from well after Wilson's death in 1798. Among these are letters and legal papers dating from the 1820s to 1850s, many of which are to or from Wilson's son Bird, who lived in New York and was an Episcopal minister.
Although not extensive, Wilson’s correspondence is richly detailed and cover a variety of topics. For example, Silas Deane's letters to Wilson reveal his frustration at being accused of embezzlement by the Congress; while his letters from Paris -- partially in code -- report of the attitudes of the English and other European powers. Wilson's notes from the Constitutional Convention document some of the more interesting discussions of the meetings, including whether or not there should be a bill of rights. Mary Wilson Hollingsworth's letters to Abby and Sally Chauncey cover social and cultural aspects, such as travel, illness, and daily activities of an upper-class young woman. There are also some letters between Wilson's sons regarding the younger boy's stay at a boarding school in Reading.
James Wilson (1742-1789) was one of Pennsylvania's leading politicians during the nation's founding years. He signed the Declaration of Independence, assisted in drafting the United States Constitution, and was a member of the Continental Congress. Wilson was also one of six men apointment by George Washington to the first Supreme Court of the United States. This collection contains a variety of papers on the early federal government and on James Wilson's business and professional activities. There are copies of drafts of the Constitution and a corrected copy of the same, notes of debates and resolutions in the Constitutional Convention, items on the establishment of the national bank, Wilson's business and personal correspondence, letters of Mary Wilson Hollingsworth, and miscellaneous documents.