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GEORGE MASON


Picture of George Mason
[Library of Congress]

1725-1792

Delegate to the Constitutional Convention (Virginia, did not sign)

Biographical Data
Religious Views
Quotations
References, Links, & Further Reading



Education:

Occupation: planter

Political Affiliation:


Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian

Summary of Religious Views:

Mason served as a vestryman from 1748 to 1785.

Views on Religion & Politics:

George Mason supported the separation of church and state, and in the years immediately after the Declaration of Independence, he worked to end government support of churches in Virginia.

Quotations:

"That as Religion, or the Duty which we owe to our divine and omnipotent Creator, and the Manner of discharging it, can be governed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or Violence; and therefore that all Men shou'd enjoy the fullest Toleration in the Exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the Magistrate, unless, under Colour of Religion, any man disturb the Peace, the Happiness, or Safety of Society, or of Individuals. And that it is the mutual Duty of all, to practice Christian Forebearance, Love and Charity towards Each other." -- proposed draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights
(James Madison found this language too restrictive, and proposed to replace it with a clause advocating complete freedom of religion. The language in the final document was a compromise between Mason's and Madison's proposals.)

"Whereas several oppressive Acts of Parliament respecting Religion have been formerly enacted, and Doubts have arisen and may hereafter arise whether the same are in Force within this Common-Wealth or not, for Prevention whereof Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Virginia, and it is hereby enacted by the Authority of the same, That all and every Act or Statute either of the Parliament of England, or of Great Britain, by whatsoever Title known or distinguished, which renders criminal the maintaining of any Opinions in Matters of Religion, forbearing to repair to Church, or the exercising any Mode of worship whatsoever, or which prescribes punishments for the same, shall henceforth be of no Validity or Force within this Common-Wealth." -- Amendment to the Bill Exempting Dissenters from Contributions to the Established Church (Virginia), 5 Dec. 1776

References, Links, & Further Reading: Books, Articles, Links


Books

Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006
George Mason, ed. by Robert A. Rutland, The Papers of George Mason, 1725--1792, 3 vols., Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1970
Helen Hill Miller, George Mason, Constitutionalist
Kate Mason Rowland, The Life Of George Mason, 1725-1792, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1892; Vol. I Vol. II; reprint, V1 V2
Robert Rutland, George Mason: Reluctant Statesman, LSU Press, 1980

Articles

Links

Works by George Mason

Objections to the Constitution (TeachingAmericanHistory.org)
Objections of the Hon. George Mason, One of the Delegtees from Virginia in the Late Continental Convention, to the Proposed Federal Constitution; Assigned as His Reason for Not Signing the Same (Online Library of Liberty)
George Mason Speech (TeachingAmericanHistory.org)

Biographical Sites

A Biography of George Mason 1725-1792 (Hypertext on American History)
George Mason (1725-1792) (EncyclopediaVirginia)
George Mason On-line (Gunston Hall Plantation)
George Mason (National Archives -- The Founding Fathers)
George Mason's views on Separation of Church and State (Separation of Church and State)



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