"A good story, well told, of a sliver of life in Richmond, a small, elite-driven capital city in the young nation's most influential state."
George Wythe clung to the mahogany banister as he inched down the staircase of his comfortable Richmond, Virginia, home. Doubled over in agony, he stumbled to the kitchen in search of help. There he found his maid, Lydia Broadnax, and his young protegé, Michael Brown, who were also writhing in distress. Hours later, when help arrived, Wythe was quick to tell anyone who would listen, "I am murdered." Over the next two weeks, as Wythe suffered a long and painful death, insults would be added to his mortal injury.
I Am Murdered tells the bizarre true story of Wythe's death and the subsequent trial of his grandnephew and namesake, George Wythe Sweeney, for the crime—unquestionably the most sensational and talked-about court case of the era. Hinging on hit-and-miss forensics, the unreliability of medical autopsies, the prevalence of poisoning, race relations, slavery, and the law, Sweeney's trial serves as a window into early nineteenth-century America. Its particular focus is on Richmond, part elegant state capital and part chaotic boomtown riddled with vice, opportunism, and crime.
As Wythe lay dying, his doctors insisted that he had not been poisoned, and Sweeney had the nerve to beg him for bail money. In I Am Murdered, this signer of the Declaration of Independence, mentor to Thomas Jefferson, and "Father of American Jurisprudence" finally gets the justice he deserved.
This historical whodunit relates the tale of the 1806 murder of one of the early nation's most celebrated jurists and public figures. Virginia's George Wythe was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution. He was also teacher and friend to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Marshall and Henry Clay. Few were as beloved and admired; the advice of no other was so sought after. But one day in 1806, he and two of his servants were poisoned. Historian Chadwick (George Washington's War) takes readers through the circumstances of Wythe's murder and gradually reveals no surprise to the attentive reader the murder suspect. It's a good story, well told, of a sliver of life in Richmond, a small, elite-driven capital city in the young nation's most influential state. The walk-on figures include a good proportion of the early republic's leading men. If Chadwick pads the book with too much on, say, arsenic poisoning, as well as the contemporary practices of autopsies, it's all pertinent to the tale's outcome: the acquittal of the likely murderer. Illus.
Customer ReviewsSee All
True or false ?
Some of the elements of this story are true, however some of the statements the author makes are not historically accurate and can not be proven with primary sources. Please keep this in mind while reading this work of NONFICTION!
Says a person who works at the George Wythe house in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. (He was poisoned by his great-nephew, George Wythe Sweeney but it can not be totally proved)