James Wilson
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timeline spans from 1742 to 2013
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1742

366972
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366972

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1787


"[T]he United States now exhibit[s] to the world, the first instance, as far as we can learn, of a nation, unattacked by external force, unconvulsed by domestic insurrections, assembling voluntarily, deliberating fully, and deciding calmly, concerning that system of government, under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live."


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"What is meant by the liberty of the press is, that there should be no antecedent restraint upon it; but that every author is responsible when he attacks the security or welfare of the government, or the safety, character, and property of the individual."


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"If there was no other lovely feature in the Constitution but this one, it would diffuse a beauty over its whole countenance. Yet the lapse of a few years, and Congress will have power to exterminate slavery from within our borders."


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1789


"The pyramid of government-and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form-should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected."


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1790

in 1790

"[T]hat important and respectable, though small and sometimes neglected establishment, which is denominated a family . . . . [The family is] the principle of the community; it is that seminary, on which the commonwealth, for its manners as well as its numbers, must ultimately depend. As its establishment is the source, so its happiness is the end, of every institution of government, which is wise and good."


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in 1790

"What was the primary and principal object in the institution of government? Was it ? I speak of the primary and principal object ? was it to acquire new rights by a human establishment? Or was it, by human establishment, to acquire new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights, to the enjoyment or acquisition of which we were previously entitled by the immediate gift, or by the unerring law, of our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator? The latter, I presume, was the case . . . ."


-349591
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in 1790

"Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind."


-349588
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-349588

in 1790

"The opinion has been very general, that, in order to obtain the blessings of a good government, a sacrifice must be made of a part of our natural liberty. I am much inclined to believe, that, upon examination, this opinion will prove to be fallacious."


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-349587

in 1790

"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness."


-349584
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-349584

in 1790

"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness."


-349575
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in 1790

"To prevent crimes, is the noblest end and aim of criminal jurisprudence. To punish them, is one of the means necessary for the accomplishment of this noble end and aim."


-349574
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in 1790

"Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge."


-349569
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-349569

in 1790

"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it."


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1791

in 1791

"The law of nature is universal. For it is true, not only that all men are equally subject to the command of their Maker; but it is true also, that the law of nature, having its foundation in the constitution and state of man, has an essential fitness for all mankind, and binds them without distinction."


-349597
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in 1791

"The law of nature is immutable; not by the effect of an arbitrary disposition, but because it has its foundation in the nature, constitution, and mutual relations of men and things."


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in 1791

"By exclusive property, the productions of the earth and the means of subsistence are secured and preserved, as well as multiplied. What belongs to no one is wasted by every one. What belongs to one man in particular is the object of his economy and care."


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-349595

in 1791

"When a nation has a right, and is under an obligation to preserve itself and its members; it has, by a necessary consequence, a right to do every thing, which, without injuring others, it can do, in order to accomplish and secure those objects . . . . The same principles, which evince the right of a nation to do every thing, which it lawfully may, for the preservation of itself and its members, evince its right, also, to avoid and prevent, as much as it lawfully may, every thing which would load"


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in 1791

"Nations, as well as men, are taught by the law of nature, gracious in its precepts, to consider their happiness as the great end of their existence. But without existence there can be no happiness: the means, therefore, must be secured, in order to secure the end."


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in 1791

"With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger."


-349592
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in 1791

"There is not in the whole science of politiks a more solid or a more important maxim than this ? that of all governments, those are the best, which, by the natural effect of their constitutions, are frequently renewed or drawn back to their first principles."


-349590
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-349590

in 1791

"Every prudent and cautious judge . . . will remember, that his duty and his business is, not to make the law, but to interpret and apply it."


-349589
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in 1791

"Superior force may reside with predominant malevolence. Has force, exerted for the purposes of malevolance, a right to command? Can it impose an obligation to obey? No. Resistance to such force is a right, and, if resistance can prove effectual, it is a duty also."


-349586
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in 1791

"When we say, that all men are equal; we mean not to apply this equality to their virtues, their talents, their dispositions, or their acquirements."


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in 1791

"Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."


-349582
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-349582

in 1791

"Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind."


-349580
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-349580

in 1791

"[The President] is the dignified, but accountable magistrate of a free and great people. The tenure of his office, it is true, is not hereditary; nor is it for life: but still it is a tenure of the noblest kind: by being the man of the people, he is invested; by continuing to be the man of the people, his investiture will be voluntarily, and cheerfully, and honourably renewed."


-349579
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in 1791

"In observations on this subject, we hear the legislature mentioned as the peoples representatives. The distinction, intimated by concealed implication, through probably, not avowed upon reflection, is, that the executive and judicial powers are not connected with the people by a relation so strong or near or dear. But is high time that we should chastise our prejudices; and that we should look upon the different parts of government with a just and impartial eye."


-349577
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in 1791

"In planning, forming, and arranging laws, deliberation is always becoming, and always useful."


-349576
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-349576

in 1791

"It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness."


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-349572

in 1791

"When divorces can be summoned to the aid of levity, of vanity, or of avarice, a state of marriage frequently becomes a state of war or strategem."


-349571
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1792

in 1792

"The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become in law only one person . . . . Upon this principle of union, almost all the other legal consequences of marriage depend. This principle, sublime and refined, deserves to be viewed and examined on every side."


-349570
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1793


"A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God . . . ."


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1798

366643
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357072
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in 1798

James Wilson.

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with
in 1798

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1804

in 1804

"The law of nature and the law of revelation are both Divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is indeed preposterous to separate them from each other."


-349585
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-349585

in 1804

"Slavery, or an absolute and unlimited power in the master over the life and fortune of the slave, is unauthorized by the common law . . . . The reasons which we sometimes see assigned for the origin and the continuance of slavery appear, when examined to the bottom, to be built upon a false foundation. In the enjoyment of their persons and of their property, the common law protects all."


-349581
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-349581

in 1804

"The pyramid of government-and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form-should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected."


-349578
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-349578

in 1804

"The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually . . ."


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1808

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1809

322600
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1811

351891
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1825

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1826

1830

1831

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1846

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1847

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1850

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1851

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1852

1856

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327201

in 1856
(Two members)

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1857

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1860

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249308

1861

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1872

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1873

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1877

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1883

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1885

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1921

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1922

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1928

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1929

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1931

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1970

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2012

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2013

Other Events



James Wilson.

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James Wilson.

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James Wilson, LL.D.

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