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This article argues that the key to understanding James Wilson, one of the leading architects of the Constitution and the first Supreme Court Justice to be sworn in, and yet arguably the most neglected and misunderstood figure from the founding generation, is as a "great synthesizer" of seemingly disparate philosophical and constitutional commitments. Drawing upon the natural rights tradition of early classical liberalism as envisioned by John Locke, Wilson insisted that the new federal government be as democratic and broadly reflective of "We the People" as possible. Drawing upon the law of nations tradition as articulatedp articularlyb y Cicero, he became one of the nation's leading proponents of a strong, centralized federal government in order to form "a more perfect union." And inspired by the concept of the moral sense and the innate sociality of the human person as discussed in the Scottish Enlightenment by Thomas Reid and Francis Hutcheson, he made clear that the "blessings of liberty" were contingent upon an active and engaged citizenry on the national level. By understanding this overlooked, synthetic quality of Wilson's thought, we may better understand, in all its richness and complexity, the unique role Wilson played in America's creation story, gain a new perspective on the original Constitution itself its achievements and flaws, and reconstruct a compelling constitutional theory that cut across the political alignment of the day but perhaps better anticipated subsequent constitutional development than any of the prevailing positions in 1787.

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