"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, June 10, 2019

George Mason

This 2002 statue of George Mason by Wendy M. Ross is part of the George Mason Memorial in West Potomac Park.

 George Mason
1725 - 1792
Author of America's First Bill of Rights

 George Mason Memorial
A Gift of the
Board of Regents of Gunston Hall Plantation, Mason Neck, Virginia 
The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America
Dedicated by:
William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice of the United States
April 9, 2002
Memorial Design     Rhodeside & Harwell, Incorporated
Sculptor    Wendy M. Ross 
The memorial was dedicated in 2002 in the spot that had been the Victorian Pansy Garden.

The Pansy Garden

Mason is depicted reading books of political philosophy. In his hand is Cicero's De Officiis.

And on the bench beside him are John Locke's On Understanding and Rousseau's Ou Contract Social.

He has laid his hat and cane aside.

As he lounges in a grape arbor.

On the back of the bench on which he sits are the words of the Virginia Declaration of Rights June 1776.
 “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights... among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
On panels flanking him are various quotations by and about George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

“This was George Mason, a man of the first order of wisdom among those who acted on the theatre of the revolution, of expansive mind, profound judgment, cogent in argument...” Thomas Jefferson, 1821

“Regarding slavery.... that slow poison, which is daily contaminating the minds and morals of our people. Every gentlemen here is born a petty tyrant. Practiced in acts of despotism and cruelty, we become callous to the dictates of humanity, and all the finer feelings of the soul. Taught to regard a part of our own species in the most abject and contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of the dignity of man, which the hand of nature had implanted in us, for great and useful purposes....” George Mason, July 1773

"I recommend it to my sons.... never to let the motives of private interest or ambition to induce them to betray, nor the terrors of poverty and disgrace or the fear of danger or of death deter them from asserting the liberty of their country, and endeavoring to transmit to their posterity those sacred rights to which themselves were born.” George Mason, March 1773
The 1773 quote about slavery has an ironic ring to it in light of the fact that Mason owned around a hundred human beings.

“The first declaration of rights which truly deserves the name is that of Virginia... and its author is entitled to the eternal gratitude of mankind.” Marquis de Condorcet, Paris 1789

“All power is vested in and consequently derived from the People...

Government is or ought to be instituted for the common benefit protection and security of the people

The Freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained by despotick governments.

All Men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion....” Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 1776

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