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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part I - Scots in the Settlement and Development of The United States
Scots in the Constitutional Convention


IN the Constitutional Convention of 1787, at least twelve of the fifty-four members were of Scottish descent: John Blair (Va.) ; Alexander Hamilton (N. Y.) ; William Churchill Houston (N. J.) ; William Livingston (N. J.) ; James McClurg (Va.) ; James McHenry (Md.) ; John Mercer (Md.); William Paterson (N. J.) ; John Rutledge (S. C.) ; Richard Dobbs Spaight (N. C.) ; James Wilson (Pa.) ; and Hugh Williamson (N. C.).

Hon. James Wilson

Hon. James Wilson (1742-1798) was born in or near St. Andrews, Scotland, and after studying in the universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh, came to America in 1765. In 1774 he published a pamphlet in which he covered all the chief points of the Declaration of Independence, and he was one of the most active in securing its adoption by the Continental Congress. Bancroft says he was "the most learned civilian in the Constitutional Convention." No other delegate exceeded him in power and influence, nor in tact, persuasive argument, nor profound learning, He was a statesman of the highest order and played an important part in the politics of his own State. He was active in the election of Washington to the presidency, and was appointed an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court by the first President.

John Rutledge (1739-1800), a brother of Edward and Hugh Rutledge, was the eldest son of Dr. John Rutledge. He was sent to the Congress in New York in 1765, where he boldly advocated Colonial Union, and was a member of the South Carolina Convention of 1774; and from that time forward was the foremost citizen of South Carolina of his day. He was a member of the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia; framed the Constitution for South Carolina in 1776, and was its first governor till 1782; a member of the Continental Congress, 1783; Chancellor of South Carolina, 1784; member of the Constitutional Convention, 1787; and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

William Paterson (1745-1806) was born at sea, while his parents were on the way from the north of Ireland. He was a distinguished resident of New Jersey and gave his name to the city of Paterson in that State. He was graduated at Princeton in 1763; was a member of the State Constitutional Convention, 1776, and State Attorney General; a member of the Continental Congress, 1780-1781, and National Constitutional Convention, 1787; United States Senator, 1789; Governor of New Jersey, 1791; and was appointed by President Washington, 1793, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


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