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ON THIS DAY IN 1806

George Wythe Died From Poisoning

June 8, 2017 by Bill Sullivan

Portrait of George Wythe copied by William H. Crossman of New York

On June 8, 1806, George Wythe, one of the great men of revolutionary Virginia, died at age 80. He was poisoned.

In fact, Lydia Broadnax, who was enslaved for over 45 years, was working as Wythe’s cook when the event occurred. Learn what she saw in the video below:

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, Broadnax, and their world.