Gunston Hall, Home of George Mason

George Mason Chronology

1215 Magna Carta: This document, written by a group of English barons who were tired of heavy taxes and arbitrary actions by the king, established the principle that the monarch's power is not absolute. The Magna Carta eventually became a basic document of the British Constitution, and although not originally intended to do so, it came to represent democracy and universal protection of ancient liberties. These beliefs were incorporated into the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers, from which George Mason and other colonists drew heavily when declaring independence and establishing their own state and national governments.
1632-1704 John Locke was an English philosopher whose writings greatly influenced George Mason and his contemporaries. Locke was a part of the Enlightenment, and he argued that the government's sole purpose was to protect the natural rights, liberty, and property of the people. Furthermore, government had a contract with the people, and if it broke that contract, the people had a right to rebel. These ideas became the cornerstone for the colonies' cries for independence and for the new government they eventually established.
1689 English Bill of Rights: This document was an act of Parliament that guaranteed the right of British subjects to petition the king and to bear arms, and also prohibited excessive bails and fines and cruel and unusual punishment. This document became part of the British Constitution, and also set a precedent upon which Enlightenment philosophers, and subsequently Mason and other American colonists, based their claims for individual rights and liberties.
1725 11 December. George Mason of Gunston Hall was born at the Mason family plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia.
1735 Father died in boating accident.
1746 Came of age to assume responsibility for extensive land holdings he inherited in Virginia and Maryland.
1748 Unsuccessfully sought seat as Fairfax County delegate to Virginia House of Burgesses.
1749 Elected vestryman of Truro Parish. Broadened land speculation interests by becoming partner in the Ohio Company (an organization that invested in land located in the Ohio River Valley).
1750 4 April. Married Ann Eilbeck from a plantation in Charles County, Maryland.  They lived in a house on George's property in Dogue's Neck, Virginia.
1751 Appointed treasurer of the reorganized Ohio Company, serving until his death. He spent much of his life attempting to recover disputed land claims for the company.
1754 The Seven Years War (French and Indian War) began when George Washington faced French forces at the forks of the Ohio River.
1758 Mason was appointed to represent Fairfax County in the Virginia House of Burgesses and served until 1761.
1759 Completed construction of Gunston Hall, a plantation house on the Potomac River.
1763 10 February. Peace of Paris Treaty ended French and Indian War.
7 October. Proclamation of 1763 which forbid land claims and settlement west of boundary line marked by Appalachians.
1765-66 Mason active in protest of Stamp Act. Wrote letter to London Public Ledger opposing British actions and signed it, "A Virginia Planter."
1769 Helped to write nonimportation agreements as a resistance measure against British Parliamentary taxation. Under these agreements, colonial citizens vowed to boycott British goods until their complaints were answered.
1773 9 March. Ann Eilbeck Mason died.
1774 July.  Served on the Fairfax County Committee of Safety and oversaw the formation of an independent militia company for Virginia.
18 July.  Mason wrote Fairfax Resolves (with assistance from George Washington and others) stating actions to be taken against British aggression.
1775 May.  Chosen as a Fairfax County delegate to the Virginia Convention.
April 19. Fighting between the Colonies and Great Britain began in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, initiating the War for Independence.
1776 Mason served in Virginia Convention in Williamsburg. Prepared drafts of the first declaration of rights and state constitution in the Colonies. Both were adopted after committee alterations.
12 June. Virginia Declaration of Rights.
29 June. Virginia Constitution.
1776 4 July.  Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was formally announced to the world.
1777 Mason continued to represent Fairfax County in Virginia's House of Delegates (the new government created by Virginia's Constitution), and assumed major responsibility for laws needed to continue the war.
1780 Married Sarah Brent of Stafford County, Virginia.
1781 Owing to poor health, Mason withdrew from legislature.
27 February.  Maryland became last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.
1 March.  Articles took full effect.
Fall.  Mason helped to provide supplies to troops moving toward Yorktown for the final Revolutionary battle.
19 October.  British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, ending hostilities of the American Revolution.
1782 Mason returned to private business matters.

Appointed to serve on a Virginia-Maryland commission to settle navigation questions on the Potomac River.

1786 Appointed to represent Virginia as a delegate to a Federal Convention, to meet in Philadelphia in May, 1787, for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.
1787 May to October. Served at the Federal Convention in Philadelphia and contributed greatly to the formation of the Constitution.  He would not, however, sign the Constitution for several reasons.  He provided a list of objections to explain why.
1788 3 June-27 June. Attended Virginia ratifying convention as a delegate from Stafford County. Opposed ratification and called for a second federal convention.
July-August. Retired from active politics and spent time assisting sons with business ventures.
1789 French Revolution and drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was based heavily on Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights.
1790 25 March. Mason was appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, but because of poor health, decided not to serve.
1791 15 December. U.S. Bill of Rights, based largely on George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, was ratified.
1792 Corresponded with U.S. Senator James Monroe on national politics.
August-September. In spite of increasing poor health, welcomed Thomas Jefferson to Gunston Hall; recounted events of the Federal Convention.
7 October. George Mason died on a peaceful Sunday afternoon at Gunston Hall.
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