A Message from the Dean
Career Evolution
The Dark Side of James Wilson
A Shepherd to Troubled Youths
Doug Frenkel Steps Down as Clinic Director
The Brief
Faculty News & Publications
The Campaign for Penn Law
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
The dark side of James Wilson
BY NATALIE WEXLER, L’83
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

Wilson’s plan was typically ambitious: the first course alone ran to fifty-eight lectures, and his drafts and final versions fill sixty-one notebooks. But Wilson actually delivered less than half of these lectures, and they were never published during his lifetime as he had intended. His duties on the high court — particularly his obligation, as a Justice, to travel around the country holding circuit courts — undoubtedly interfered. But probably even more distracting were his increasingly complex business affairs. Like many of the founders, Wilson engaged in land speculation, but he did so on an unusually grand scale, borrowing huge sums to buy up thousands of acres of wilderness on the western frontier. Not content with his reputation as a fount of legal knowledge, Wilson, whose origins in Scotland were modest, also aspired to be one of the nation’s wealthiest men. Among his holdings was a fledgling town in the wilds of Pennsylvania that he christened “Wilsonville.”
 
Previous Page Next Page