Wilson’s contentment with life probably peaked during his time in Milestown when the town’s citizens selected him to speak in honor of Jefferson’s inauguration as president, Wilson’s remarks circulated throughout the states, and he finally repaid the loan for purchase of his farm in Ovid, New York. He could look back on several years of accomplishment. If his life had continued along this pleasant track, he probably would have died fulfilled and unknown to us. Fortunately, the good times lasted only a couple more months.

What happened? On 23 July 1801, he wrote a despairing letter to Charles Orr, a close friend and fellow Scottish émigré, lamenting that a woman in the neighborhood loved him, that she had no one she could turn to for solace, and he needed to leave town so that the gossip would fade. No one has ever determined who the woman was, but we can...

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