After being admitted into the colony's General Court bar in 1746, Wythe started …show more content…
He prepared the drafting of the first Virginia constitution, with the help of George Mason. Wythe served with Jefferson, Mason, Thomas Ludwell Lee, and Edmund Pendleton on the committee that change Virginia's laws. George Wythe helped design the seal of Virginia.
In 1777, Wythe was elected speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Within two years he was appointed as professor of law and police. It was the first such professorship in the nation. Due to a dispute with the administration, Wythe resigned from the college in 1789 and accepted an appointment as judge of Virginia's Court of Chancery in Richmond.
Chancellor Wythe used the opportunity of one of his cases to try to end the institution of slavery. He declared that Virginia's Declaration of Rights written by Mason and adopted in 1776 included African Americans among the "all men" born free and equally independent. "They should," Wythe said, "be considered free until proven otherwise." But his ruling did not make it to appeals.
George Wythe died from arsenic poisoning June 8, 1806. Wythe's funeral was the largest in state history at that time. Local businesses closed for the day as thousands lined his funeral. His service was held at the state capitol. Wythe is buried at St. John's Church in Richmond,