Remembering George Mason IV

George Mason IV was born on his family's plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia Colony on this day in 1725. His father died in a ferryboat accident ten years later, George lived with an uncle with a library of 1500 volumes where he educated himself. At age 21 he inherited his fathers holdings, including over 20,000 acres in Virginia and Maryland. He wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Jefferson adapted for the Declaration of Independence. He reluctantly took Washington's seat in the House of Burgesses and when time came to create the Constitution he was Virginia's delegate to that assembly. The lack of a statement of rights caused him to refuse to sign the document and campaign against ratification. The campaign worked, in the first Congress Madison introduced what we now know as the Bill of Rights, largely paraphrased from Mason's original.

Below are some of his more memorable quotes:

“Government is, or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration.”

“I begin to grow heartily tired of the etiquette and nonsense so fashionable in this city.”

“We came equals into this world, and equals shall we go out of it.”

“A few years' experience will convince us that those things which at the time they happened we regarded as our greatest misfortunes have proved our greatest blessings.”

“When the same man, or set of men, holds the sword and the purse, there is an end of liberty.”

“This cold weather has set all the young folks to providing bedfellows. I have signed two or three licenses every day [as a Fairfax Justice of the Peace] since I have been at home. I wish I knew where to get a good one myself; for I find cold sheets extremely disagreeable.”

     All from George Mason, 1725 – 1792

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

One Response to Remembering George Mason IV

  1. TVNews says:

    I like the “same man” quote.