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Encyclopedia > William Wirt

William Wirt (November 8, 1772February 18, 1834) was an American author and statesman who is credited with turning the position of United States Attorney General into one of influence. November 8 is the 312th day of the year (313th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 53 days remaining. ... Catherine IIs soldiers in the Russo-Turkish War, by Alexandre Benois. ... February 18 is the 49th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1834 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Alberto Gonzales, current Attorney General of the United States The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. ...

Born in Bladensburg, Maryland to a Swiss father and a German mother, Wirt was privately educated, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1792. After several years as a lawyer, he became clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates, then chancellor of the Eastern District of Virginia. In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson asked him to be the prosecutor in Aaron Burr's treason trial. President James Monroe named him the ninth Attorney General of the United States in 1817, a position he held for 12 years, through the administration of John Quincy Adams, until 1829. Bladensburg is a town located in Prince Georges County, Maryland. ... The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. ... The presidential seal was used by President Hayes in 1880 and last modified in 1959 by adding the 50th star for Hawaii. ... Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Aaron Burr, Jr. ... James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the fifth (1817–1825) President of the United States and author of the Monroe Doctrine. ... John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was an American lawyer, diplomat, politician, and President of the United States(March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1829). ...

In June 1830, a delegation of Cherokee led by Chief John Ross selected Wirt on the urging of Senators Webster and Frelinghuysen to defend Cherokee rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. Wirt argued in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that "the Cherokee Nation [was] a foreign nation in the sense of our constitution and law..." and was not subject to Georgia's jurisdiction. Wirt asked the Supreme Court to null and void all Georgia laws extended over Cherokee territory on the grounds that they violated the U.S. Constitution, United States-Cherokee treaties, and United States intercourse laws. For other uses, see Cherokee (disambiguation). ... Photograph of Ross John Ross John Ross (October 3, 1790 - August 1, 1866), also known as Kooweskoowe - the egret, was a leader of the Cherokee Native American tribe. ... Daniel Webster (1782–1852) Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 25, 1852) was a United States Senator and Secretary of State. ... Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787–1862) Theodore Frelinghuysen (March 28, 1787–April 12, 1862) was a American politician, serving as New Jerseys Attorney General, United States Senator, and Mayor of Newark, New Jersey before running as a candidate for Vice President with Henry Clay on the Whig ticket in the election... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... Cherokee Nation v. ... Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed The Constitution of the United States is the supreme...

Although the Court determined that it did not have original jurisdication in this case, the Court held open the possibility that it yet might rule in favor of the Cherokee. Wirt therefore waited for a test case to again resolve the constitutionality of the laws of Georgia. The opportunity came on March 1, 1831, when Georgia passed a law aimed at evicting missionaries, who were perceived as encouraging the Cherokee resistance to removal, from Cherokee lands. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, an interdenominational missionary organization hired Wirt to challenge the new law. The decision in Worcester v. Georgia was handed down by Marshall on March 3, 1832, and stated that in the Cherokee Nation, "the laws of Georgia have no force, and...the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter." Proposed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College and officially chartered in 1812, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was the first American Christian foreign mission agency. ... Holding States were not permitted to redraw the boundaries of Indian lands or forbid residence in those territories, because the Constitution granted sole authority to Congress to regulate relations with sovereign Indian tribes. ...

After leaving Washington, D.C., he returned to Baltimore, Maryland, was an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1832 as the candidate of the Anti-Masonic party. This was rather ironic because he was, in fact, a Freemason, and even gave a speech at the Anti-Masonic convention defending the organization. In going on to win Vermont, he became the first candidate of an organized third party to carry a state. Wirt practiced law until his death in 1834. The Anti-Masonic Party (also known as the Anti-Masonic Movement) was a 19th century minor political party in the United States. ... American Square & Compasses Freemasonry is a worldwide fraternal organization. ... Official language(s) None Capital Montpelier Largest city Burlington Area  Ranked 43rd  - Total 9,620 sq. ...

In 1817, Wirt wrote Life and Character of Patrick Henry, a biography of Patrick Henry which contained the supposed text of some of Henry's speeches, many of which had never been published. Some historians have since speculated that some of Henry's phrases that have since become famous, such as "Give me liberty or give me death!" were essentially fabricated by Wirt for this book. Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was a prominent figure in the American Revolution, known and remembered primarily for his stirring oratory. ...

Wirt County, West Virginia (formerly Virginia) is named in his honor. Wirt County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. ... Lost counties, cities and towns of Virginia are those which formerly existed in the English Colony of Virginia or the Commonwealth of Virginia as one of the United States. ...

Important Cases Argued

Holding Although the Constitution does not specifically give Congress the power to establish a bank, it does delegate the ability to control national economic policy, which a bank can be considered part of. ... Cherokee Nation v. ... Holding States were not permitted to redraw the boundaries of Indian lands or forbid residence in those territories, because the Constitution granted sole authority to Congress to regulate relations with sovereign Indian tribes. ...


Preceded by:
Richard Rush
United States Attorney General
Succeeded by:
John M. Berrien
United States Attorneys General Seal of the United States Department of Justice
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