Portrait & Bio
William Wirt was born in Bladensburg, November 8, 1772. His father was a native of Switzerland; his mother, of Germany. At the age of eight years he was left an orphan under the care of his uncle. He attended school four years, and when fifteen years old had completed the course of Latin and Greek classics usually taught in the academies. Not having the means of procuring a college education, he taught school for two years. He then commenced the study of law, and at the age of twenty was admitted to practice at Culpeper court, in Virginia, where he became acquainted with Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. He was clerk of the House of Delegates and chancellor of the Eastern Shore.
In 1807 he assisted at the trial of Aaron Burr, and displayed learning and eloquence which established his reputation as one of the leading orators of the day.
In 1816 he was attorney of the United States for Virginia. In 1817 he was appointed by President Monroe Attorney-General of the United States, which office he held twelve years. Retiring from public life, he removed to Baltimore and devoted himself to the practice of his profession. In 1832 he was the candidate of the Anti-Masonic party for the Presidency of the United States. He died February 18, 1834, aged sixty-two years.
The reputation of Wirt as a scholar and a writer was high, and in all the relations of private life, as a, man and as a Christian, he was regarded with affection and veneration. He published several works, of which the "Life of Patrick Henry" is the most popular. It has been styled "a most masterly handling of the pen of biography."
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