The dark side of James Wilson
BY NATALIE WEXLER, L’83
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Wilson’s death brought a merciful end to an embarrassing
episode: had the situation continued, he almost certainly would
have become the first Justice to be impeached. But the disgrace
of Wilson’s final years has led to an undeserved obscurity. His
missteps shouldn’t be ignored, but neither should his many contributions
— even above and beyond the founding of one of the
country’s preeminent law schools — be forgotten.
Natalie Wexler, L’83, is a former associate editor of The
Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United
States, 1789-1800 and the author of A More Obedient Wife:
A Novel of the Early Supreme Court, which is based in part
on the story of James and Hannah Wilson.