Front Page Titles (by Subject) COLLECTOR'S FOREWORD - Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 1
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COLLECTOR’S FOREWORD - James Wilson, Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 1 
Collected Works of James Wilson, edited by Kermit L. Hall and Mark David Hall, with an Introduction by Kermit L. Hall, and a Bibliographical Essay by Mark David Hall, collected by Maynard Garrison (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). Vol. 1.
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The Introduction, Collector’s Foreword, Collector’s Acknowledgments, Annotations, Bibliographical Essay are the copyright of Liberty Fund 2007. The Bibliographical Glossary in volume 2 is reprinted by permission of the copyright holders the President and Fellows of Harvard College 1967.
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In 1907 Professor L. H. Alexander of Harvard University observed that “two great figures . . . loom from the Revolutionary era, the one, [James] Wilson’s, whose brain conceived and created the nation; the other, [George] Washington’s, who wielded the physical forces that made it.”1 Alexander concluded that because of Wilson’s intellectual and theoretical contributions to the nation’s founding, it was certain that future scholars would shower great attention on him. Compared with others of the founding generation, however, that has not happened. There is not a little irony in this development. For example, in 1997 Lady Margaret Thatcher stated before the annual convention of the American Bar Association that the modern political era began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent adoption of the American Constitution in 1787, both documents Wilson helped to shape and to which he affixed his signature. Government created by consideration and choice, rather than force or accident, had become the universally admired model, Thatcher observed, and Wilson was one of the architects of that model. It was Wilson who wove the intellectual threads of his generation into a theory of popularly based government wedded to the rule of law. In theory and action Wilson, as Alexander argued, created a nation.
The path of Wilson’s life, career, and political thought are detailed in Kermit Hall’s introduction. As Hall makes clear, Wilson was at the front rank of the founders. He was also in touch with the future. “By adopting this system,” Wilson explained in 1787, “we shall probably lay a foundation for erecting temples of liberty, in every part of the earth.” He went on to insist that “[t]he advantages resulting from this system will not be confined to the United States; it will draw from Europe many worthy characters, who pant for the enjoyment of freedom.”2 Thus the universal admiration for the American system recognized by Lady Thatcher in 1997 was foretold by James Wilson more than two centuries earlier. It is for this reason that we return with respect to his works.
[1. ]L. H. Alexander, James Wilson, Nation Builder (1907), p. 13.
[2. ]Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787–1788 (1888), 2: 488.