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Murder of a Founding Father: Death & legacy of George Wythe

One of Virginia’s most revered Founding Fathers, George Wythe, exhaled his last breath on June 8, 1806, at his home at 5th and Grace Streets, dead of rat poisoning.

He has the dubious distinction of being the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to be murdered. Arsenic was the method, distributed in the morning breakfast by the hand of a deranged great-nephew, looking for an early inheritance.

Wythe and his surrogate son Thomas Jefferson had been the last two Virginia signers of the Declaration of Independence alive in 1806, and now only Jefferson remained. Fittingly, Wythe’s body was laid in state in Virginia’s state capitol, the magnificent neoclassic building designed by Jefferson, his former student and lifelong friend. Thousands passed by Wythe’s remains to pay their respects and trudged in summer heat up Church Hill behind the horse-drawn casket for burial in St. Johns Churchyard.

Hear the rest of the story and stay after for a book signing by Suzanne.

Murder of a Founding Father: Death & legacy of George Wythe