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Thomas Jefferson is rightly recognized as the author of the Declaration of Independence, but less well known to the public is the role of his professional mentor and close friend George Wythe, who assisted in drafting the Declaration and served as both a law professor and Chancellor. Among Wythe's mentees were future President James Monroe, John Marshall, Henry Clay, and many others who played a role in shaping the Nation. This symposium paper explores the foundations of American legal education in the antebellum era, a short account of which confirms that the Founders understood that a republic needs experienced lawyers in high places who can work things out.