(1725–October 7, 1792), was an American Revolutionary statesman and delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention. He was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, a lawyer, judge, political philosopher and planter. The richest man in Virginia, George Mason owned 15,000 acres in Virginia and 80,000 acres in the Ohio area. He was the author of the Virginia Constitution and the Virginia Bill of Rights.

Although a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, George Mason refused to sign the United States Constitution as it did not abolish slavery and did not sufficiently limit the Federal Government’s power from infringing on the rights of States. He disapproved strongly of the slave trade, vehemently hated paper money and disliked the idea of a strong, centralized Federal Government, fearing it would usurp the sovereignty of the individual States. .

Called the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” George Mason insisted that Congress add the first ten amendments to the Constitution in order to restrict the power of the federal government. His influence is worldwide, as virtually all succeeding constitutions have incorporated the pattern he set forth. The first ten amendments limiting centralized power, may be found foreshadowed in the Virginia Bill of Rights, June 12, 1776:

Article XVI. That Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator, and the Manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Convictions, not by Force or Violence; and therefore all Men are equally entitled to the free exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience; and that it is the mutual Duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love, and Charity towards each other.653

George Mason stated before the General Court of Virginia:

The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.654

This phrase of Mason’s was mirrored in the Declaration of Independence as “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”655

On August 22, 1787, George Mason stated:

Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.656

George Mason proposed wording for the First Amendment:

All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.657

On Tuesday, March 9, 1773, George Mason recorded his wife’s death inside their 1759 Family Bible:

About three o’clock in the morning, died at Gunston-Hall … 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. …

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 …

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.658

In his Last Will and Testament, George Mason stated:

I, George Mason, of “Gunston Hall”, in the parish of Truro and county of Fairfax, being of perfect and sound mind and memory and in good health, but mindful of the uncertainty of human life and the imprudence of man’s leaving his affairs to be settled upon a deathbed, do make and appoint this my last Will and Testament.

My soul, I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator, whose tender mercies are over all His works, who hateth nothing that He hath made and to the Justice and Wisdom of whose dispensation I willing and cheerfully submit, humbly hoping from His unbounded mercy and benevolence, through the merits of my blessed Savior, a remission of my sins.659