Continuation of the series on the signers of the Declaration of Independence
By all accounts George Wythe was a brilliant lawyer. He mentored Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, and the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He taught law at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and earned the reputation as the first law professor in the United States. In addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence he drafted the Virginia state constitution and designed the state seal. He met a painful and horrible death when he was poisoned by his sister's grandson who was in line to inherit part of Wythe's estate but not all of it. Wythe's will made provisions for his former slave housekeeper and her son who stayed on to work in Wythe's household. Wythe's nephew poisoned everyone in the household and the housekeeper's son died immediately. Wythe lived long enough to make a new will and disinherit the murderer but the murderer was not convicted as the housekeeper could not give testimony because, at the time, blacks "could not bear witness against white men".