James Wilson House Site

102 W. High St. Carlisle, PA

James Wilson House Site
Jennifer Oswald

James Wilson lived in a home on this site from 1770-1775. A signer of the Declaration of Independence and Framer of the US Constitution, this was his home in 1774 when he published his pamphlet, "Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament." This argued that Parliament had no authority to pass laws over American Colonies because they had no representation in Parliament.

While living in Carlisle in 1771, James married his first wife, Rachel Bird, and became a prominent lawyer practicing law in Carlisle and the surrounding areas. He also began his ill fated foray into land speculation. In 1774 he became chairman of  Carlisle's Committee of Correspondence and attended the first provincial assembly. It was in 1774, too, that he published his pamphlet, "Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament," this was an early challenge to the authority of British Parliament and was well received by members of Congress. In 1775 James himself would become a member of the Continental Congress.

James Wilson would go on to become a framer of the Federal Constitution. In 1787, after the ratification of the Federal Constitution, there was an Anti-Federalist Riot in the Carlisle town square, one block from James Wilson's former home. Anti-Federalists, angered by the Constitution and what they believed to be loss of personal liberties and state's rights, burned effigies of James Wilson and Thomas McKean and attacked a group of citizens celebrating the ratification.  The following day, the celebration of the ratification of the Federal Constitution was completed on the town square and that evening the citizens of Carlisle drank a toast to James Wilson at Joseph Postlethwaits' tavern just down the road from his former home. 

The current building on James Wilson's house site, which has stood since the early 1800's, was formerly known as the James Wilson Hotel.



Our thanks to Jennifer Oswald for recommending this site.

Updated July 8, 2019

List of trips to this site

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