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A Quick Guide to George Mason

A Quick Guide to George Mason


George Mason was an early American statesman, planner, lawyer, and plantation owner who contributed massively to the drafting of the original Constitution. He was born on December 11, 1725, in Fairfax County, Virginia, where his father had settled as a young man. Mason is famous for his work on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was used as the foundation for the United States Bill of Rights. This article will examine his life, accomplishments, and legacy, with a particular emphasis on his contributions to political thought and his impact on the development of the United States.

Early Life

George Mason was born to George Mason Sr. and Ann Thomson Mason in Fairfax County, Virginia. His father was a landowner who had settled in Virginia in the early 1720s. The family was wealthy, and George Jr. received a good education as a result. He was tutored at home in grammar, mathematics, and classical literature. At the age of ten, he was sent to a boarding school in Maryland, where he continued his studies. In 1741, he entered the College of William and Mary, where he studied law for three years.

Legal Career

After completing his legal studies, George Mason began his legal career, practicing law in Virginia for the next thirty years. His primary area of interest was property law, and he used his expertise to acquire land all over Virginia. One of his most notable land acquisitions was Gunston Hall, a 5,500-acre plantation located south of Alexandria, Virginia. He purchased this property in 1759 and spent the next several years developing it into a prosperous tobacco plantation.

Political Career

George Mason’s political career began in the early 1750s with his appointment to the Fairfax County court. He soon became involved in Virginia politics and was a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1759 to 1776. During this time, he served on several committees, including the Committee of Correspondence, which was responsible for communicating information about British actions in the colonies. In 1774, he was a delegate to the Virginia Convention, which was convened to discuss the British Intolerable Acts. He was also a member of the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1781.

Virginia Declaration of Rights

George Mason’s most significant contribution to political thought was the Virginia Declaration of Rights. This document was adopted by the Virginia Convention on June 12, 1776, and served as the prototype for the United States Bill of Rights, which was later added to the Constitution. The Virginia Declaration of Rights states that all men are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights, and that government should be based on the consent of the governed.

Constitutional Convention

In 1787, George Mason was chosen as one of Virginia’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He was the only delegate to refuse to sign the final document, believing it lacked adequate protections for individual rights. Mason led the opposition to ratification of the Constitution in Virginia, arguing that it gave too much power to the federal government and lacked proper protections for individual rights.


George Mason is often overshadowed by his contemporaries, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. However, his contributions to political thought and the development of the United States are significant. His Virginia Declaration of Rights served as the basis for the Bill of Rights, and his opposition to the Constitution helped ensure that important safeguards were included to protect individual rights. He was also an early advocate for the abolition of slavery, arguing that it was incompatible with the principles of liberty and equality.


George Mason was an important figure in early American history, playing a significant role in the drafting of the Constitution and the development of the United States. He was a visionary thinker who believed in the principles of liberty and equality and worked tirelessly to promote them. His legacy as a champion of individual rights and limited government lives on today, and his contribution to American democracy will not be forgotten.

Founding Fathers: George Mason

George Mason was born on December 11, 1725, on a farm in Fairfax County, Virginia. He is most famous for leading Virginia patriots during the American Revolution and his idea of inalienable rights, which influenced Thomas Jefferson when he was writing the Declaration of Independence. As a member of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason advocated for a weak central government and a strong local government. This advocacy was one of the factors that led to the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

George Mason was born as the son of George and Ann Thomson Mason on his family’s plantation in Fairfax County. After his father drowned in a boating accident in 1735, George Mason left his mother to live with his uncle, John Mercer. His uncle had a vast collection of volumes in a library, with around 500 books dedicated to law. After studying with tutors and going to a private school in Maryland, he took over his inheritance at the age of 21 of about 20,000 acres of land in both Maryland and Virginia.

As a near neighbor of George Washington and landowner, George Mason took a leadership role in local affairs. He also became interested in the Western expansion of America and was very active in the Ohio Company, which was organized in 1749 in order to sell land and develop trade on the upper Ohio River. Around the same time, George Mason also helped to found the town of Alexandria, Virginia. Because of family problems and poor health, George Mason typically stayed away from public office, although he accepted the election and became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1759. With the exception of his membership in the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, being a member was the highest office George Mason ever held. However, he was still very crucial in shaping political institutions in the United States.

As a leader of the Virginia patriots from 1775 to 1783 on the eve of the American Revolution, George Mason also served on the Committee of Safety. In 1776, Mason drafted the state constitution in Virginia, where his declaration of rights became the first authoritative description of the doctrine of inalienable rights. George Mason’s Declaration of Rights was known to Thomas Jefferson, who was influenced by it when drafting the Declaration of Independence. Virginia’s Declaration of Rights soon became a model by most of the states for their own state constitutions and also became incorporated in some form to the federal Constitution. From 1776 to 1788, George Mason also served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

As a member of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason strongly opposed the compromise which permitted the continuation of the slave trade in the United States until 1808. Although Mason was a Southerner, he considered the slave trade “disgraceful to mankind.” Mason also preferred education for bondsmen and also supported a system of free labor. Because Mason objected to the large and indefinite powers placed in the new government, he joined many other Virginians in opposing the adoption of the Constitution. As a Jeffersonian Republican, George Mason felt that local governments should be kept strong while the central government should be weak. Mason’s criticism of the Constitution helped bring about the ratification of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.

Soon after the Constitutional Convention, George Mason retired to his home, Gunston Hall. He passed away on October 7, 1792, and was buried at Gunston Hall.