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George Wythe

George Wythe (1726 - June 8, 1806), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Virginia.

He was born in Elizabeth City County, Virginia[?] and educated at home by his mother (his father had died when he was three). He attended the College of William and Mary but dropped out, unable to afford the fees. He read law at the office of Stephen Dewey and was admitted to the bar in Spottsylvania County in 1746. He was Clerk of the committee on Privileges and Elections of the House of Burgesses in 1746, and was appointed Attorney General by the Royal Governor of Virginia in 1753. He served in the House of Burgesses until its dissolution.

He became a Professor of Law at William and Mary (the first professor of Law in America) in 1769, and taught Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, James Monroe, and John Marshall.

He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775, voting in favor of the resolution for independence and signing the Declaration of Independence. He helped form the new government of Virginia and was elected Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1777. In 1789 he became Judge of the Chancery Court of Virginia.

A slave owner, he became an abolitionist, freeing his slaves and providing for their support. Wythe provided for his slaves in his will, and one of his other heirs decided to avoid this dilution of his fortune by poisoning the slaves with arsenic. In the process, he accidentally killed Wythe as well.

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