George Mason

George Mason

Birth
Death 7 Oct 1792 (aged 66)
Lorton, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA
Burial Lorton, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 681 · View Source
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Revolutionary War Statesman, Constitution Congress Delegate. He was an influential American patriot who helped gain support for the American Revolution and helped write the Constitution of the United States. Born in Virginia in 1725, when he was ten years old, his father died, and his uncle, John Mercer, raised him. His education was profoundly influenced by his uncle's 1500 volume library, of which nearly one third were about the law. Mason inherited Gunston Hall, one of the richest plantations in colonial Virginia. In 1750, he married Anna Eilbeck, and together they had five sons and four daughters. In 1752, he acquired an interest in the Ohio Company, an organization that speculated in western lands by outfitting settlers and accepting a portion of their crops and fur trappings as payment on the loans. In 1773, the British crown revoked the rights of colonists to settle in Ohio, reserving these lands to the Indians and instantly destroying the wealth of the Ohio Company. Mason, the company treasurer, wrote his first major state paper, "Extracts from the Virginia Charter" attempting to regain the rights to settlement in Ohio. In 1754, he became a justice of the Fairfax County court, and in 1759, he became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (one of the first colonial parliaments). In 1765, he opposed the Stamp Act, and wrote an open letter explaining the colonist's position to a committee of London merchants, trying to obtain their support. In 1774, he assisted in the drawing up of the Fairfax Resolves, a document that outlined colonial objections to the closing of Boston Harbor (the closing was in retribution to the Boston Tea Party). In 1775, he helped write Virginia's Declaration of Rights, which was used in part by Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence, and was later used as the basis for the Constitution's Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution). His influence is seen in the 1783 Peace Treaty with Great Britain, which established the American/British Boundary at the Great Lakes, instead of the Ohio River. After independence, Mason wrote the plan for Virginia's cession of its claim to western lands. In 1780, he remarried after the death of his first wife, to Sarah Brent. In 1787, he was a delegate and frequent speaker at the Constitution Convention, exerting great influence, especially in the later drafting of the Bill of Rights, a document that protected individual rights. He believed in the separation of church and state, and was a strong proponent of individual rights over the power of the government. He favored popular elections of government officials, unrestricted admission of new western states, and a three-part government. Although a slaveholder, he was appalled by the institution, feeling that "every slave master is born a petty tyrant." He favored abolition of slavery, as soon as economically feasible, and supported a halt to future importation of slaves into America. Although initially a leader of the Anti-Federalists (those opposed to the Constitution), he changed his mind and supported the Constitution after the Bill of Rights was adopted. In recognition to his dedication to his principles during the Age of Reason, he was called the American Manifestation of the Enlightenment. Mason died in Virginia on 7 October 1792, and was buried on the grounds of Gunston Hall.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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Inscription

George Mason
departed this Life on the 7th day of October 1792
in the 67th year of his Age
Principal Author of the First Constitution of Virginia
and of the Virginia Declaration of Rights
~ Basis of the Federal Bill of Rights~


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 681
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George Mason (11 Dec 1725–7 Oct 1792), Find A Grave Memorial no. 681, citing Mason Family Cemetery, Lorton, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .