George Mason (1725-1792) was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which formed the basis for our Bill of Rights. He was a significant figure during the American Revolutionary years, and much as been written concerning him. Among those who admired his multifaceted personality was General Fitzhugh Lee, who said of him:
He was indeed the people's man in a people's government. The tent of his faith was pitched upon the bedrock of the freedom of the citizen. Great was his belief in the security of a purely Republican form of government. Sublime was his reliance in the power of the people. This life of George Mason is proper and opportune. A period in our history has been selected to which we should more frequently recur, by calling attention to the service of a man with whose career we should become more familiar. "The people should control the government, not the government the people," was his war cry.George Mason, along with George Washington, served on the building committee and was a vestryman of Truro Parish, which consisted of three churches. Mason's term as vestryman lasted 35 years. In the historic records of Pohick Church, kept for posterity, we read that: "The Civil functions of the old vestries devolved by law on the overseers of the poor."
Pohick Church was completed in 1774, and still stands near Mount Vernon. The beautiful interior of this church includes calligraphy-inscribed wall panels that face the congregation. Inscriptions comprise the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20, the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6, and the Apostles' Creed.
A noted historian says the following about this American patriot:
George Mason was the first man in the history of the world to formulate
and forerunner to the United States Bill of Rights, reads:
That Religion, or the Duty which we owe to our creator, and the
Evidence of George Mason's Faith
In his own handwriting, Mason wrote the following in his family 1759 Bible (unclassified). This he wrote on the event of his beloved wife's death on March 19, 1773:
On Tuesday, the 9th of March, 1773, about three o'clock in the morning, died at Gunston-Hall, of a slow fever, Mrs. Ann Mason, in the thirty-ninth year of her age; after a painful and tedious illness of more than nine months, which she bore with truly Christian patience and resignation, in faithful hope of eternal happiness in the world to come. She, it may be truthfully said, led a blameless and exemplary life. She retained unimpaired her mental faculties to the last; and spending her latest moments in prayer for those around her, seem'd to expire without the usual pangs of dissolution. During the whole course of her illness, she was never heard to utter one peevish or fretful complaint, and constantly, regardless of her own pain and danger, endeavoured to administer hope and comfort to her friends, or inspire them with resignation like her own. For many days before her death she had lost all hopes of recovery, and endeavour'd to wean herself from the affections of this life, saying that tho' it must cost her a hard struggle to reconcile herself to the hopes of parting with her husband and children, she hoped God would enable her to accomplish it; and after this, th' she had always been the tenderest parent, she took little notice of her children, but still retain'd her usual serenity of mind. She was buried in the new Family-burying-ground at Gunston-Hall; but (at her own request) without the common parade and ceremony of a grand funeral.
Her funeral sermon was preached in Pohick Church by the reverend Mr. James Scott, Rector of Dettingen Parish in the County of Prince William, upon a text taken from the 23rd, 24th, and 25th verses of the 73rd Psalm: "Nevertheless, I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth."
In the beauty of her person and the sweetness of her disposition she was equalled by few and excelled by none of her sex. She was something taller than the middle size and elegantly shaped. Her eyes were black, tender and lively; her features regular and delicate; her complexion remarkably fair and fresh. Lilies and roses (almost without a metaphor) were blended there, and a certain inexpressible air of cheerfulness and health. Innocence and sensibility diffused over her countenance formed a face the very reverse of what is generally called masculine. This is not an ideal but a real picture drawn from the life, nor was this beautiful outward form disgraced by an unworthy inhabitant. "Free from her sex's smallest faults, and fair as womankind can be."
She was blessed with a clear and sound judgement, a gentle and benevolent heart, a sincere and an humble mind, with an even, calm and cheerful temper to a very unusual degree; affable to all, but intimate with few. Her modest virtues shunned the public eye; superior to the turbulent passions of pride and envy, a stranger to altercation of any kind, and content with the blessings of a private station, she placed all her happiness here, where only it is to be found, in her own family. Though she despised dress she was always neat; cheerful but not gay; serious but not melancholy. She never met me without a smile! Though an only child she was a remarkably dutiful one. An easy and agreeable companion, a kind neighbor, a steadfast friend, a humane mistress, a prudent and tender mother, a faithful, affectionate and most obliging wife; charitable to the poor and pious to her Maker, her virtue and religion were unmixed with hypocrisy or ostentation. She was formed for domestic happiness, without one jarring atom in her frame! Her irreparable departure I do ever shall deplore, and though time, I hope, will soften my sad impressions and restore me greater serenity of mind than I have lately enjoyed, I shall ever retain the most tender and melancholy remembrance of one so justly dear.
The above give a little-known inside view of Mason's Christian value system, as he extols his wife's inner beauty and character.
On the reverse side of the eulogy on his beloved wife, are found the following lines written shortly after his death by a family member. It gives an accurate account of the founding father's stature and caliber as a patriot.
George Mason of Gunston died at the Seat of Gunston Hall in
pocketbook by his daughter Sarah:
Alas! What can the honors of the world impart
"I, George Mason, of "Gunston Hall," in the parish of Truro and county
(For more information, see The Rewriting of America's History, by Catherine Millard.)