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Taylor discusses his latest book on national podcast

Taylor discusses his latest book on national podcast

NORFOLK, Neb. – As he completes a companion piece to his book on one of America’s founding fathers, a Northeast Community College history/political science instructor had the opportunity recently to discuss his work and fascination with the establishment of the United States.

Michael Taylor participated in an interview as part of a podcast where he discussed his current book, James Wilson: The Anxious Founder, that focuses on the immigrant from Scotland who became one of the premier minds and leading figures of the American Founding. Wilson played a critical role throughout the deliberations that brought forth the Constitution; becoming one of the few men who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He would go on to become a central figure in the Ratifying Convention in Pennsylvania and was one of six original justices appointed by George Washington to the first Supreme Court of the United States. 

Taylor spoke of Wilson and his work on his book on Ben Franklin's World - a podcast for people who love history and want to know more about the early American past. In Episode 366, Taylor said writing the book was challenging because Wilson did not leave many records. Unlike some of the other founders, they deliberately saved their paperwork because as they looked toward the future as they wanted some sort of documentary record.

“Wilson didn’t do that. He was too busy,” Taylor said. … “You just get this impression of somebody who’s on the go, trying to make his way.” 

Taylor said his research found that Wilson did carry a briefcase that contained documents. There were two times where he lost it and had to place advertisements in newspapers to get it back, even saying that whoever found it could keep any money inside, but he really wanted the documents back. 

Wilson’s impact on the nation continues in many ways to this day. His conceptions include systems that are responsible for ensuring election to the country’s highest offices. One is the current method of electing the President of the United States. The other area of Wilson’s influence is the process of electing U.S. senators. 

Podcast host Liz Covart asked Taylor what the Constitution would look like today if Wilson had never left Scotland and had never become involved in the American Revolution or the establishment of the government of the United States. Taylor said he believes that the document would have looked more like what is contained in the Articles of Confederation and there would have been more of a parliamentary style of government.

“The executive (branch) would be much more constrained and less powerful than what evolved. (Wilson) saw what was possible for the future and tried to get that into the Constitution. There is no doubt that as a document, the Constitution would look a lot different.”

Taylor said that Wilson is not among the first people one thinks of when it comes to America’s founding fathers, but he deserves to be included on the second list of those individuals who had an impact on the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s that period of time from the Constitutional Convention to ratification. That is when he (gives) the United States his best service.”

Taylor said there were many things he couldn’t talk about in his book on Wilson because it would have made it too long. His next book, to be released in summer 2025, serves as a companion piece to James Wilson: The Anxious Founder and focuses on the ratification of the Constitution in Pennsylvania. It begins at a point when articles start appearing in Pennsylvania newspapers that are for and against the document and then ties it together with Wilson’s role at the time. 

To hear the podcast with Taylor, visit The book, James Wilson: The Anxious Founder, is published by Lexington Books. Hardcover, paperback, and Kindle versions are available through online retailers.


PHOTO ID: James Wilson.