On June 8, 1806, George Wythe, one of the great men of revolutionary Virginia, died at age 80. He was poisoned.
Wythe was a citizen of the Enlightenment, deeply interested in politics and history and science. Among his law students were Thomas Jefferson and future Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.
He was also a dedicated public servant, with stints as attorney general, in the House of Burgesses, and as a delegate to the Continental Congress. When it came time to sign the Declaration of Independence, Wythe’s fellow Virginia delegates paid him the honor of leaving the top space open so his name would be listed first.
“No man ever left behind him a character more venerated,” wrote Jefferson. “His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country.”
Don’t miss a visit to his home on Palace Green, where you can learn more about Mr. Wythe and his world.