We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

George Mason

Reluctant Statesman

Robert A. Rutland

Publication Year: 1980

George Mason of Gunston Hall was a scholarly craftsman of government during America’s crucial formative years. His Virginia Declaration of Rights provided a sense of purpose and direction to the rebellious colonies, and his vigorous insistence on the protection of personal liberties in the Constitution is reflected in the document’s first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said of Mason that he “was of the first order of greatness.” Few Americans who have served their country, however, have met with as little recognition. Essentially a private person who cared nothing for political prestige, Mason had been overshadowed by the other founders of the Republic—although most of them had turned to him for advice and direction. In a concise, cogently written biography, a distinguished historian restores the “reluctant statesman” to his proper place in the pantheon of America’s greatest citizens.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (90.0 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (578.9 KB)
pp. 2-15


pdf iconDownload PDF (539.2 KB)
pp. 16-7

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (227.2 KB)
pp. vii-x

THAT the name of George Mason should be acclaimed throughout the Republic whose birth pangs he shared, and indeed throughout the free...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (400.9 KB)
pp. xi-xviii

THE Potomac River south of Washington alters its slow, southeasterly course to form a giant horseshoe whose open end looks toward Baltimore...

read more

1. Heir to a Personal Dominion

pdf iconDownload PDF (569.8 KB)
pp. 3-12

MENTION the Northern Neck to a present-day Virginian and there will arise in his mind the image of a long, flat finger of land still predominantly...

read more

2. A Proper Home

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 13-29

MASON could have built a larger house, but he planned Gunston Hall exactly as he was learning to approach most human endeavors— with moderation...

read more

3. "The Necessity of the Times"

pdf iconDownload PDF (725.7 KB)
pp. 30-43

HISTORICAL "ifs" are guesswork, therefore useful only when they set off a fact more clearly by focusing on its opposite. If there had been no Stamp...

read more

4. Crisis at Williamsburg

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 44-63

As he rode south, Mason reflected on his two sorrowful years as a widower, and on the ominous prospect facing the Colony. The same month Ann died, March, 1773, the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg...

read more

5. Victory—and New Conflict

pdf iconDownload PDF (888.3 KB)
pp. 64-80

IN December of 1770 Mason declared that Americans regarded independence as "the wildest chimera that ever disturbed a madman's brain...

read more

6. Constitution and Compromise

pdf iconDownload PDF (521.1 KB)
pp. 81-91

BY the spring of 1787 the political apparatus of the young United States government was operating at a level of dismal inefficiency. Disabled from the start by the lack of taxing and regulatory authority...

read more

7. The Antifederalist Crusade

pdf iconDownload PDF (500.2 KB)
pp. 92-102

THE distressing outcome of four sultry months in Philadelphia, amplified by the accident and bloodletting in Maryland, was the climax of an adventure...

read more

8. Retreat to Gunston Hall

pdf iconDownload PDF (467.4 KB)
pp. 103-110

THE discord at the ratifying convention left its scars. Colonel Mason now spoke of Edmund Randolph as "young A-- d," comparing his former associate with the detested Benedict Arnold. Washington himself...

read more

The Virginia Declaration of Rights

pdf iconDownload PDF (160.8 KB)
pp. 111-114

A DECLARATION of RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in f u l l and free Convention; which rights do pertain to them, and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government...

read more

A Note on the Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF (156.8 KB)
pp. 115-116

Scattered letters from George Mason's pen now rest in collections from Boston to Richmond, but the main body is gathered in the Mason papers...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (110.9 KB)
pp. 117-118

This book benefited immeasurably from the editorial hand of James R. Short of Colonial Williamsburg, who gave the manuscript a final polish...


pdf iconDownload PDF (437.1 KB)
pp. 119-123

E-ISBN-13: 9780807153420
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807106969

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 1980