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Автор(и) : James Wilson
Издател : Liberty Fund
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2007
ISBN : 978-0-86597-687-0
Брой страници : 1262
Език : английски
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This two-volume set brings together a collection of writings and speeches of James Wilson, one of only six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and one of the most influential members of the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787. Wilson’s writings and speeches had a significant impact on the deliberations that produced the cornerstone documents of our democracy. Wilson’s signal contribution to the founding of our national government was his advocacy for both a strong national government and an open and democratic political system, a position that set him apart from both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
Wilson’s writings form one of the most significant bodies of thought about the relationship between a distinctively American form of democracy and a distinctly American constitutional system. Wilson wrote extensively on the concepts of separation of powers, the authority of the judiciary to review acts of the other branches, and the development of principles of representative government. This collection of Wilson’s writings includes his famous law lectures, a number of noteworthy essays and speeches, some of which are presented together for the first time, and his opinions in several Supreme Court cases. Together, the writings in this volume illustrate that Wilson’s words more nearly foreshadowed the nation’s future than those of his better remembered contemporaries such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. In addition to providing the reader with a historical view of the nature of American democracy, the power of courts and judges, the independence of the executive branch, and the power of law to structure social relations, this book speaks directly to the ongoing debate about the scope and nature of judicial review and the place of law and judicial structures in the conduct of society.
Of Crimes Against the Right of Individuals to Their Property.
Every crime includes an injury: every injury includes a violation of a right. The investigations, which we have hitherto made concerning rights, will direct our course in that which we are now to make concerning wrongs.
I assumed, though, for the reasons assigned, I have not yet proved, that a man has a right to his property. I begin my enumeration of crimes with those which infringe this right.
I have observed that every injurious violation of our rights, natural and civil, absolute and relative, may lay the foundation of a crime.a I did not mean, however, to insinuate, by this observation, that every injury ought to be considered by the law in a criminal point of view. For every injury let reparation be made by the civil code, in proportion to the loss sustained; but let those injuries alone, which become formidable to society by their intrinsick atrocity, or by their dangerous example, be resented by society and prosecuted as crimes. Agreeably to this principle, a private injury done without actual violence, cannot be prosecuted by an indictment.b It is not considered as affecting the community.
This principle, however, seems to have gained its full establishment only by the liberality of modern times. It is remarkable, that a law made on this liberal principle, in an early period of Pennsylvania, was repealed by the king in council.c But this is not the only instance, in which the improving spirit of our legislation has been at first checked, but has received subsequent countenance by late decisions in England.
With the enjoyment and security of property, the security and the authenticity of its evidences is intimately connected. For this reason, dangerous and deliberate attacks upon that security or authenticity are crimes by the common law.
James Wilson (1742 – 1798) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution. A leading legal theoretician, he was one of the six original justices appointed by George Washington to the Supreme Court of the United States.
One of the most prominent lawyers of his time, Wilson is credited for being the most learned of the Framers of the Constitution. A fellow delegate in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia made the following assessment of James Wilson: "Government seems to have been his peculiar study, all the political institutions of the world he knows in detail, and can trace the causes and effects of every revolution from the earliest stages of the Grecian commonwealth down to the present time."
Wilson's most lasting impact on the country came as member of the Committee of Detail, which produced the first draft of the United States Constitution in 1787 (a year after the death of his wife). He wanted senators and the president to be popularly elected. He also proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise at the convention, which made slaves count as three-fifths of a person for representation in the House and Electoral College. Along with James Madison, he was perhaps the best versed of the framers in the study of political economy. He understood clearly the central problem of dual sovereignty (nation and state) and held a vision of an almost limitless future for the United States. Wilson addressed the Convention one hundred-sixty-eight times.
He was nominated to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court by George Washington on September 24, 1789, after the court was implemented under the Judiciary Act of 1789. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received commission on September 29, 1789. Only nine cases were heard by the court from his appointment in 1789 until his death in 1798.
He became the first professor of law at the College of Philadelphia in 1790—only the second at any academic institution in the United States—in which he mostly ignored the practical matters of legal training. Like many of his educated contemporaries, he viewed the academic study of law as a branch of a general cultured education, rather than solely as a prelude to a profession.
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