Keep Wythe’s name

on public schools

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Before removing the names of historic Virginia leaders from local schools, based on slave ownership, Richmond school officials might want to brush up on some interesting history.

Take Founding Father George Wythe, for example, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and America’s most influential teacher. Yes, he did inherit slaves and owned them for a while. But he also freed his slaves later in life, when he was legally able to do so, and provided generously for several of them in his will.

Further, as a state judge, he shocked his contemporaries by becoming the first and only judge to rule slavery illegal, based on Virginia’s Bill of Rights (Hudgins v. Wright, 1806). The ruling was overturned by a higher court, but it was a principled stab by Wythe at the evil institution.

Thomas Jefferson, mentored by Wythe, admired his abolitionist views and wrote about Wythe’s anti-slavery crusade among his students at the College of William & Mary Law School.

Here’s hoping that the two George Wythe high schools in Virginia, one in Richmond and one in Wytheville, will continue to honor the good man’s name.

Suzanne Munson.


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