U.S. Constitution Signer’s Copy of an English Journalistic Classic
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Boldly signed “James Wilson” in ink in blank portion of title. Tonson’s 1757 complete edition of The Spectator was intended as a deluxe typographical production. Finely printed on heavy paper and embellished with vignettes by skilled engravers, it is a reflection of the enduring public regard for Addison and Steele’s 555 daily papers (published from March 1711 to December 1712; 80 issues added in 1714). JAMES WILSON.
Signed Book. Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, The Spectator, Volume Sixth. London: Jacob and Richard Tonson, 1757. Engraved vignette on titlepage. Speckled sheep, covers gilt-ruled, spine gilt with red morocco gilt-lettered label. Quarter morocco gilt protective slipcase.
James Wilson (1742-1798) was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow, imbibing the principles of the Scottish Enlightenment. Unable to graduate due to his father’s death, Wilson emigrated to America, and became a tutor at the College of Philadelphia, and assistant to Pennsylvania lawyer John Dickinson. For many years, Wilson practiced law in Reading and Carlisle, and became a powerful force in Pennsylvania politics. In 1774, he published “Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, an influential revolutionary pamphlet. Wilson was twice elected to the Continental Congress, and served concurrently as a brigadier general in the state militia. Like other Pennsylvanians in Congress, including his mentor, Dickinson, Wilson was pressured by his constituents to forestall declaring independence. Wilson himself eventually changed his mind, voting for and signing the Declaration of Independence. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Wilson sat on the Committee of Detail, which produced the first draft. He proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise, and was, next to James Madison, the most active participant in the Convention. Wilson was a major proponent for ratification in his home state, which became the second state to approve the new constitution in 1787. President Washington named him as one of the six original justices of the Supreme Court.
Board edges a bit darkened, joints cracked.