George Mason

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George Mason was born on December 11, 1725, at the Mason family plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia. His father died in 1735 in a boating accident. On April 4, 1750, he married Ann Eilbeck from a plantation in Charles County, Maryland. They lived in a house on George's property in Dogue's Neck, Virginia. Mason completed construction of Gunston Hall (a plantation house on the Potomac River) in 1759. He and his wife had twelve children, nine of which survived to adulthood. Mason served at the Virginia Convention in Williamsburg in 1776. During this time he created drafts of the first declaration of rights and state constitution in the Colonies. Both were adopted after committee alterations; the Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted June 12, 1776, and the Virginia Constitution was adopted June 29, 1776. Mason was appointed in 1786 to represent Virginia as a delegate to a Federal Convention, to meet in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.

He served at the Federal Convention in Philadelphia from May to September 1787 and contributed significantly to the formation of the Constitution. However, he would not sign the Constitution for a number of reasons; the very first of his objections was that the original Constitution failed to contain a "declaration of rights". Mason continued to agitate for the addition of a bill of rights to the Constitution after the convention. This agitation cost Mason his long friendship with George Washington, and is probably a leading reason why George Mason became less well-known than other U.S. founding fathers in later years. On December 15, 1791, the U.S. Bill of Rights, based primarily on George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, was ratified in response to the agitation of Mason and others. Mason died at his home, Gunston Hall, on October...