Wirt, William (1772–1834)

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WIRT, WILLIAM (1772–1834)

A Virginian lawyer, William Wirt helped defend James Callender in his sedition trial (1800) and helped prosecute aaron burr for treason (1806). As United States attorney general under james monroe and john quincy adams (1817–1829), Wirt initiated the system of preserving the "opinions of the Attorneys General" for future use. While attorney general, Wirt followed the common practice of arguing private cases. In association with daniel webster he helped successfully to argue dartmouth college v. woodward (1819), mcculloch v. maryland (1819), and gibbons v. ogden (1824). Wirt's national perspective in these cases was similar to his official policy as attorney general.

Paul Finkelman


Kennedy, John P. 1850 Memoirs of the Life of William Wirt. Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard.