352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 illus., notes, bibl., index
2006 Richard Slatten Prize for Excellence in Virginia Biography, Virginia Historical Society
George Mason (1725-92) is often omitted from the small circle of founding fathers celebrated today, but in his service to America he was, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "of the first order of greatness." Jeff Broadwater provides a comprehensive account of Mason's life at the center of the momentous events of eighteenth-century America.
Mason played a key role in the Stamp Act Crisis, the American Revolution, and the drafting of Virginia's first state constitution. He is perhaps best known as author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a document often hailed as the model for the Bill of Rights.
As a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Mason influenced the emerging Constitution on point after point. Yet when he was rebuffed in his efforts to add a bill of rights and concluded the document did too little to protect the interests of the South, he refused to sign the final draft. Broadwater argues that Mason's recalcitrance was not the act of an isolated dissenter; rather, it emerged from the ideology of the American Revolution. Mason's concerns about the abuse of political power, Broadwater shows, went to the essence of the American experience.
"Fills a major gap in modern biographies of significant Revolutionary figures. . . . Thoroughly researched and well-written."
--Town & County
"A compelling case."
--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Our understanding of the American founding is impoverished by neglecting the thoughts, words, and deeds of forgotten founders like George Mason. Broadwater's biography rightly gives the gentleman planter from Gunston Hall his due."
--The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
“Broadwater produces a carefully drawn, balanced account of the career of the intelligent but crotchety figure.”
--American Historical Review
“The author does justice to Mason . . . particularly as opposition leader against statism, power elitism, and the slave trade and as champion of individual rights.”
"Broadwater's biography of George Mason is important because of the subject. It is also important because it shows us in great detail the foundation of Virginia and American government at a time when many of us seem to be wandering in the wilderness without a map."
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