Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution. He also took a position as Advocate General for France in America (1779–83) dealing with commercial and maritime matters and legally defended Loyalists and their sympathizers. But he assures his students that: "When I deliver my sentiments from this chair they shall be my honest sentiments: when I deliver them from the bench they shall be nothing more.
A leading legal theorist he was one of the six original justices appointed by George Washington to the Supreme Court of the United States. James Wilson (1742–1798) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.