George Wythe was a member of the(1754–1755, 1758, 1761–1766) and the Conventions of 1776, 1787, 1788, a during the American Revolution (1775–1783), Speaker of the House of Delegates (1777–1778), and judge of the High Court of Chancery (1778–1806). His signature is first among Virginians on the Declaration of Independence. Born in Elizabeth City County, Wythe was educated by his mother and read the law under the guidance of an uncle, eventually building a lucrative practice in , where he mentored a young . He supported independence during the Revolution and served on a General Assembly committee with Jefferson and others charged with revising Virginia’s laws. In 1778, the assembly elected Wythe to serve on the newly created High Court of Chancery, where he stayed the rest of his life, even after receiving offers of seats on higher courts. He twice used his position to rule that slavery was unconstitutional, including in Pleasants v. Pleasants (1799), but was twice overruled by the Court of Appeals. He later freed his own slaves. From 1780 to 1789 he taught law at the College of William and Mary, becoming the first law professor at any American university; John Marshall was one of his students. He served briefly in the and then appealed for its ratification in Virginia. Wythe died in Richmond in 1806, by his great-nephew, George Wythe Sweeney Jr.