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  • Full Name: William Wirt
  • Served: 1799 - 1802
  • Bio Information: Born in Bladensburg, MD, November 8, 1772. Died in Washington, D. C., February 18, 1834. Buried in the National Cemetery at Washington, D. C. William Wirt was the son of Jacob and Henrietta Wirt, both of whom died before he was eight years of age. His lather was a Swiss tavern keeper and his mother was of German descent. He was educated in the public schools of Maryland and by private tutor. He was a lawyer of distinction and a writer of ability, among his works being the Life of Patrick Henry. In 1792, when twenty years of age, he commenced the practice of law in Fairfax (now Culpeper) County. He was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, his neighbors in Albemarle County. He moved to Richmond in 1799 and became Cleric of the House of Delegates. Three years later he was elected Chancellor of the Eastern District of Virginia at the early age of 30, resigning after six months. On January 28, 1802, he was elected judge of the District Court of Chancery in the city of Williamsburg, resigning April 23, 1803. He moved to Norfolk in the winter of 1803, and returned to Richmond in 1806. He was retained to aid in the prosecution of Aaron Burr in 1807, He was a member of the House of Delegates from Richmond City, 1808-09. In 1816, he was appointed U. S. Attorney for Virginia by President Madison, and became Attorney General of the United States by appointment of President Monroe in 1817. After twelve years he resigned and moved to Baltimore, and in 1832 accepted a nomination by the anti-Masons as their candidate for President of the United States, but was defeated by Andrew Jackson. Shortly after his death, John Quincy Adams made an eloquent tribute to Wirt before the House of Representatives. He married firstly, May 28, 1795, Mildred Gilmer (died in 1799), daughter of Dr. George and Lucy (Walker) Gilmer, and secondly, September 7, 1802, Elizabeth Washington Gamble, daughter of Colonel Robert and Catherine (Grattan) Gamble of Richmond. Photograph of crayon by St. Memin. While he was Clerk of the House, the Speaker was LARKIN SMITH.

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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