James Wilson's Draft

I have been tickled by the recent identification of records of James Wilson at the Historical Society of Pennsvlvania as an early draft of the Constitution prepared during the Constitutional Convention in the Summer of 1787.  I think the find is slightly less electrifying than the initial ballyhoo suggests, but it’s still a great thing.  Further study may reveal whether it truly unlocks some secret of the deliberations.

I take particular pleasure that the “find” focuses attention on Wilson, who was one of the three most important Framers during the Convention.  We have him to thank for the Electoral college and the three-fifths rule — a couple of remarkable innovations, even if you don’t care for them (and I don’t).

The other two of the top three Framers?

  • George Washington (for being there).
  • John Rutledge (for having the greatest influence on the final Constitution).

What about James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, and Ben Franklin?  I’d put them at 4, 5, and 6.


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