Wythe, George (1726–1806)

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WYTHE, GEORGE (1726–1806)

George Wythe served almost uninterruptedly in Virginia's House of Burgesses from 1754 to 1775 and was a delegate to the first continental congress in 1774, later signing the declaration of independence. With his pupil Thomas Jefferson (John Marshall and henry clay were also his students) and edmund pendleton, Wythe revised Virginia's laws. He was appointed to the Virginia Court of Chancery in 1778; one year later he became the first professor of law in the United States, enabling him to influence the course of American jurisprudence. His opinion in commonwealth v. caton (1782) approved, in theory, a court's right to restrain a legislative act violative of the constitution. Wythe was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1787 and chairman of its rules committee, but judicial duties obliged him to leave the convention early. At the Virginia convention he worked for ratification of the constitution. Wythe opposed slavery and freed the slaves he inherited.

David Gordon


Clarkin, William 1970 Serene Patriot: A Life of George Wythe. Albany, N.Y.: Alan Publications.

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Wythe, George (1726–1806)

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