Founding Father and Father of the Bill of Rights
George Mason is often called the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” Before attending the Constitutional Convention as a delegate for Virginia in 1787, Mason actually created the state constitution of Virginia. The Constitution itself adapted many ideas from the Virginia constitution, but Mason still believed it granted too much power to the government and should include protections of basic human rights. Mason also called for the Constitution to immediately end slavery. After Mason chose not to sign the Constitution, his advocacy led James Madison to propose a Bill of Rights at the first Congress.
“Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.”
”We came equals into this world, and equals shall we go out of it.”
“The worthy Gentleman tells us, we have no reason to fear; but I always fear for the rights of the people…”
“That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people…”
As a young man, George Mason gained much of his education in law through hours spent in his uncle’s library, which had over 1500 books.
Mason spent most of his life in Gunston Hall, the home he and his wife had built in 1755.
Mason served in the Fairfax County House of Burgesses as well as in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Before George Washington became President, he and Mason were neighbors in Virginia.
Although Mason attended the Constitutional Congress, he chose not to attend the Continental Congress when invited.