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West Potomac Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Defender of Liberty

George Mason Memorial

 

—George Mason, 1726-1792 —

 
Defender of Liberty Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 12, 2009
1. Defender of Liberty Marker
Inscription. “I ... looked forward to ... Independence, ... and will risque the last Penny of my Fortune and the last Drop of my Blood upon the Issue.”
George Mason, 1778.

George Mason belonged to the genteel Virginia plantation society that cultivated some truly extraordinary leaders. George Washington regarded Mason as his mentor and Thomas Jefferson described him as “the wisest man of his generation.” He devoted himself to achieving American independence despite being a widower with nine children to raise. Mason helped draft the Fairfax Resolves that recommended a “continental congress” to preserve colonial rights. In 1776 Mason wrote the landmark Virginia Declaration of Rights that not only inspired the American Declaration of Independence, but also France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the United Nations’ 1954 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

After helping lead a revolt against Great Britain, George Mason prepared to lead another against his fellow delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He refused to join them for the signing ceremony (above [painting, upper right corner]) on September 17, citing their failure to forbid the importation of slaves or guarantee individual human rights. With the adoption of the U.S. Bill of Rights (left [of this caption, a photograph of the Bill of Rights]) in 1791, Mason finally
Defender of Liberty Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, September 17, 2011
2. Defender of Liberty Marker
devoted his “heart to the new Government.”

On April 9, 2002, George Mason received recognition as a champion of human rights and individual liberty. Designed to incorporate the existing 1905 fountain and its garden setting (left [of this caption is a drawing of the site plans]), the memorial draws its inspiration from Mason’s beloved Gunston Hall plantation.

Credits:
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Gift of David K. E. Bruce [George Mason portrait], Signing of the Constitution by Howard Chandler Christy; Architect of the Capitol; National Archives [U.S. Bill of Rights]; Rhodeside & Harwell [George Mason Memorial design, Gunston Hall Plantation].
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 38° 52.791′ N, 77° 2.374′ W. Marker is in West Potomac Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker can be reached from the intersection of East Basin Drive, SW and Ohio Drive, SW. Click for map. Marker is accessible to pedestrians off the sidewalk at the entrance to the George Mason Memorial - south of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the end of East Basin Drive, in East Potomac Park between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River. Marker is at or near this postal address: 900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington DC 20024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
George Mason, 1726-1792 image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 16, 2009
3. George Mason, 1726-1792
“All men are born equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural rights. ... among which are life and liberty with the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety,” --George Mason, May 1776.
distance of this marker. Cuban Friendship Urn (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Gift of Friendship (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas Jefferson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Air Mail (approx. ¼ mile away); Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Line of Duty (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Gift of Trees - The 1910 Shipment (approx. 0.4 miles away); Japanese Pagoda (approx. half a mile away but has been reported missing). Click for a list of all markers in West Potomac Park.
 
Also see . . .
1. Gunston Hall - George Mason and slavery. (Submitted on April 18, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. George Mason Memorial. (Submitted on April 18, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional keywords. Slavery; National Society of the Colonial Dames of America; Faye B. Harwell; Wendy M. Ross.
 
Categories. GovernmentPatriots & PatriotismPoliticsWar, US Revolutionary
 
George Mason Memorial - Inscriptions image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 16, 2009
4. George Mason Memorial - Inscriptions
“This was George Mason, a man of the first order of wisdom among those who acted on the theater of the revolution, of expansive mind, profound judgement, cogent argument ...”
--Thomas Jefferson, 1821.

“Regarding slavery, that slow poison which is daily contaminating the minds & morals of our people: every gentleman here is born a petty tyrant, practiced in the acts of despotism & cruelty. We become callous to the dictates of humanity and all the finer feelings of 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 & 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 to 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.
George Mason Memorial - Inscriptions image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 16, 2009
5. George Mason Memorial - Inscriptions
”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.
George Mason Memorial, erected 2002 image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 16, 2009
6. George Mason Memorial, erected 2002
Architect Faye B. Harwell, Sculptor Wendy M. Ross. Fountain and garden from 1905, foreground - 14th Street Bridge (I-395/US-1) beyond the trees in background.
George Mason Memorial - a gift of Gunston Hall & the Colonial Dames of America image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 12, 2009
7. George Mason Memorial - a gift of Gunston Hall & the Colonial Dames of America
dedicated by William H. Rehnquist, April 9, 2002.
George Mason, 1726-1792 image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 6, 2009
8. George Mason, 1726-1792
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,933 times since then and 24 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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