George Mason was an architect of the American Revolution and a leading proponent of both limiting government tyranny and protecting citizens’ rights. As the primary author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Constitution, Mason had a profound influence on his own state and the constitutions of the other states that first formed our country. Thomas Jefferson paid homage to Mason by incorporating both ideas and language from the Virginia Declaration of Rights into the Declaration of Independence. And George Mason himself was a leader in the constitutional convention and subsequent ratification debates.
Yet few people know much about Mason. A devoted family man, a shrewd business man, an independent thinker, a slave owner, and a political thinker, Mason was a complicated person. Staff and volunteers at Gunston Hall have spent years researching Mason and his world. Scholars at other institutions have added greatly to this body of knowledge. There is still much for all of us to learn.