“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver, and her gain better than fine gold.” —Proverbs 3:13-14
George Mason and the
Adoption of the Fairfax Resolves,
July 18, 1774
homas Jefferson said of George Mason, “He was one of our greatest men, and of the first order of greatness.” He was one of the chief architects of the United States Constitution, yet he refused to sign it, and joined with Patrick Henry to defeat its ratification in the Virginia Convention. He was a neighbor and good friend of George Washington but spent his final years estranged from him over Washington’s support of the Constitution. Mason was, perhaps, the chief architect of freedom in Virginia but disliked politics and refused to serve in the national government; his chief building duties centered on the improvements to his estate, Gunston Hall, and raising his family. He is a Founding Father we should all remember.
George Mason (1725-1792)
Mason ran successfully for the Virginia House of Burgesses but was too busy to invest much of his time there and did not stand for reelection at the beginning of the crucial first period of tax protests. Nonetheless, due to the esteem in which he was held, the sage of Gunston Hall was consulted by other burgesses for strategies to defeat the Stamp tax. After that success, Mason drafted a response to the Townshend Duties to institute non-importation (boycott), which the Virginia legislature adopted. The Royal Governor dissolved the House.
Old Capitol Building, Williamsburg
When information arrived in the capitol at Williamsburg regarding the “Intolerable Acts” targeting Massachusetts, George Mason happened to be in town on business. Patrick Henry, Richard Lee and Thomas Jefferson asked Mason to join them to help formulate a response. When they passed a resolution enjoining a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, the Royal Governor dissolved the legislature again. Mason’s district wanted to elect him to the Virginia Convention but he turned them down to stay home with his nine living children, his wife of twenty-three years having recently died giving birth to their thirteenth.