WILSON, James (1797-1881)

WILSON, JAMES, (son of James Wilson [1766-1839]), a Representative from New Hampshire; born in Peterboro, N.H., March 18, 1797; attended the academies at New Ipswich, Atkinson, and Exeter; moved with his parents to Keene, N.H., in 1815; was graduated from Middlebury College in 1820; member of the State militia 1820-1840 and successively promoted from captain to major general; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1823 and commenced practice in Keene, Cheshire County, N.H.; member of the State house of representatives 1825-1837, 1840, and 1846, and served as speaker in 1828; unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1835 and 1838; delegate to the Whig National Convention in 1840; surveyor general of public lands in the Territories of Wisconsin and Iowa 1841-1845; elected as a Whig to the Thirtieth and Thirty-first Congresses and served from March 4, 1847, to September 9, 1850, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Post Office Department (Thirtieth Congress); appointed one of the commissioners to settle private land claims in California in 1851 and served in this capacity until 1853; settled in San Francisco and remained there until 1867, when he returned to Keene, N.H.; again a member of the State house of representatives in 1871 and 1872; died in Keene, N.H., May 29, 1881; interment in Woodland Cemetery.

Dartmouth College Library
Rauner Special Collections Library
Hanover, NH
Papers: 1846, 2 pages.
A letter from Daniel Webster to James Wilson written on November 21, 1846. In the letter, Webster writes that when New Hampshire is toasted at Philadelphia, Wilson must tell of political prospects. They must do something about the draft.


Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston, MA
Papers: 1875, 2 pages.
A letter from James Wilson to George S. Hale written on September 25, 1875. In the letter, Wilson writes that he is unable to contribute to Hale's proposed memoir of Joel Parker.


New Hampshire Historical Society
Concord, NH
Papers: 1835-1873, 12 feet..
The James Wilson papers contain Chiefly letters from constituents, political figures, and family members; together with correspondence relating to lands and copper mining ventures in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Wilson's Gold Bluff Mine, near Crescent City, Calif., and land claims and other legal business in California; and journals, accounts, and other papers, relating to Wilson's affairs in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Includes material relating to his service as U.S. Surveyor General for the Iowa and Wisconsin territories and as a member of the U.S. Commission for Ascertaining and Settling Land Claims in California. Other family members represented include James Henry Wilson and Charlotte J. (Wilson) Taintor.

  • Heffernan, Nancy Coffey, and Ann Page Stecker. Sisters of Fortune: Being the True Story of How Three Motherless Sisters Saved Their Home in New England and Raised Their Younger Brother While Their Father Went Fortune Hunting in the California Gold Rush. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1993.