Wilson, James, Founding Father, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, 1742 – 1798. The London Chronicle. Vol. LXII, No. 4847. From Tuesday, November 20, to Thursday, November 22, 1787. Pages 489 – 496. Trimmed and dis-bound. Red stamp tax on the foot of page 492. Price Threepence. Housed in a hard folder and boxed. Fine.
A contemporary London newspaper report of Founding Father James Wilson’s speech in Philadelphia, given in the Statehouse yard on October 6, 1787, as reported from The Pennsylvania Herald Extraordinary, October 9, 1787, in which the principal architect of the Executive Branch explained the then-new federal constitution delivered “… the first authoritative explanation of the principles of the NEW FOEDERAL CONSTITUTION, and as it may serve to obviate some objections, which have been raised to that system…”. One of only six men to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, James Wilson, the first professor of American law, was tasked with teaching the first course in the American Constitution to George Washington and his Cabinet.
The speech James Wilson gave on October 6, 1787 in defense of the Constitution reverberates today. Complying with the request of many gentlemen, Wilson explained and elucidated the principles and arrangements of the constitution submitted to “the consideration of the United States.” Wilson spoke to defend the Constitution by first pointing out the difference between State constitutions and the Constitution: “When the people established the powers of legislation under their separate governments, they invested their Representatives with every right and authority which they did not in explicit terms reserve; and therefore upon every question, respecting the House of Assembly, if the frame of government is silent, the jurisdiction is efficient and complete. But in delegating foederal powers, another criterion was necessarily introduced, and the congressional authority is to be collected, not from tacit implication, but from the positive grant expressed in the instrument of union.” Wilson further addressed what some criticized as omissions: the mention of freedom of the press; trial by jury; a standing army in a time of peace; the prediction of “a baneful aristocracy in the foederal senate;” the reduction of States Governments to mere corporations and their eventual annihilation; the power of direct taxation; and, an explanation of the system of checks and balances stated in the Constitution. On October 6, 1787, James Wilson defended the lack of a bill of rights as “… for it would have been superfluous and absurd to have stipulated with a foederal [sic] body of our own creation, that we should enjoy those privileges, of which we are not divested either by the intention or the act, that has brought that body into existence.”