Serving our country

Published 11:01 am Monday, November 2, 2020

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The Founding Fathers — James Wilson


Polk County’s Charters of Freedom was dedicated in 2019 on Constitution Day, September 17, in Veteran’s Memorial Park on Gibson Street next to the House of Flags Museum in Columbus. These are full size replicas of the original Charters of Freedom on permanent display in the National Archives, Washington, DC. The Charters of Freedom consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

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Our history comes alive when we begin to know more about our Founding Fathers and the documents, they prepared to charter a new form of government for a new nation the United States of America.

The following is the second in a series introducing our Nation’s Founding Fathers prepared for us by Dr. David W. Streater, Educational Director at Foundation Forward, the organization that made the Polk County Charters of Freedom possible.

As a young immigrant from Scotland, James Wilson was a preeminent scholar and benefactor to the United States. In 1765 when he was 23, James came to America to make his way in life. Wilson’s background in Enlightenment principles, philosophy, and law served him well as a teacher, attorney, politician and in other essential positions.

Wilson proclaimed that the power of government comes from the people. Therefore, England’s Parliament had no authority over the colonies as America was not represented. Later, in Congress, Wilson was well respected and sought after for his legal and political opinions.

Wilson was one of eight immigrants to sign the Declaration of Independence. Also, he was one of six Founders to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Not only was Wilson a commissioned military officer, director of the Bank of North America and a member of the Constitutional Convention, he was one of the original associate justices of the United States Supreme Court he helped to design.

Unfortunately, all did not end well for Wilson.

He was a great political orator, but his land speculation and other business ventures led him to debtor’s prison. His final written comment was that he had been “hunted like a wild beast” by debt collectors.

At 55, after being incarcerated, James died from malaria and a stroke on the shore of the Albemarle Sound, in Currituck County, NC.

James Wilson is best remembered for promoting the ideology that All Power is Derived from the People.

Plan a visit to the Polk County Charters of Freedom setting in Columbus at the corner of Gibson and Ward Streets beside the House of Flags Museum. It is also recommended to visit the Foundation’s website,, to learn more. 

Our appreciation goes out to Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, the founders of Foundation Forward, a 501(c)3 education nonprofit organization, who made the Polk County Charters of Freedom setting possible.

Submitted by Robert M. Williamson