Wythe, George

Wythe, George wĭth [key], 1726–1806, American lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Elizabeth City co., Va. Admitted to the bar in 1746, Wythe was a member (1754–55, 1758–68) and clerk (1769–75) of the house of burgesses. An opponent of British colonial policy, he drafted a remonstrance against the Stamp Act (1765) and was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1775–76). Wythe, aided by Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Pendleton, revised (1776) the laws of Virginia, and was influential in getting Virginia to ratify the Constitution. Perhaps his greatest contribution was as professor of law (1779–90) at the College of William and Mary; his teachings influenced many, including John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Henry Clay. Wythe was one of the greatest early U.S. lawyers. He served as judge (1778–88) in the Virginia chancery court and as sole chancellor (1788–1801).

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