James Wilson on troop readiness, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1775

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


Born in Scotland, James Wilson received a formal education before leaving in 1765 to establish himself in America. He settled in Pennsylvania, worked as a teacher and studied law under future fellow delegate, John Dickenson.

Intrigued by the Stamp Act, he fervently studied the relationship between Britain and the Colonies. Wilson concluded the colonies owed allegiance to the King as British subjects, but the government had overstepped their legal authority with the recent laws.

As a member of Congress, Wilson leaned toward supporting independence. However, he would not vote in favor of separation without knowing the desire of his constituents. Benjamin Franklin needed Wilson's support to break the tie among the Pennsylvania delegates. When the vote came on July 2, 1776, Wilson appeared in Congress with Franklin and John Morton to voice Pennsylvania's support for independence.

Wilson’s letter, written to Jasper Yeates a few weeks after the battles of Concord and Lexington, referenced troop numbers and preparedness to react in case of an emergency. This letter shows Wilson’s support for the colonial cause, even if he remained hesitant about independence.

View/Add Comments


Item has a transcription view a full transcription

About This Item

  • Title: James Wilson on troop readiness, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1775
  • Creator: Wilson, James
  • Creation Date: 1775-05-09
  • Subject Date: 1775-05-09
  • Town: Carlisle, Lancaster
  • County: Cumberland, Lancaster
  • State: PA
  • Media: Ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 29.21 cm x 18.73 cm
  • Local Code: Coll. 420, Box 59/30
  • Collection: John S. H. Fogg autograph collection
  • Object Type: Text

For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

Please post your comment below to share with others. If you'd like to privately share a comment or correction with MMN staff, please use this form.