Let us all give thanks for Ge­orge Mason

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY CHARLES HURT

Ge­orge Mason’s home, Gun­ston Hall, just down the river from Mount Ver­non, is closed on Thanks­giv­ing Day but re­opens to visi­tors the day af­ter. In this sea­son when Amer­i­cans re­flect upon all that we are grate­ful for, these stately and hal­lowed grounds are a good place to start.

Com­monly re­ferred to as the “for­got­ten founder,” Ge­orge Mason IV had a fair amount of con­tempt for pol­i­tics. Es­pe­cially politi­cians. It was a dirty, grubby af­fair that at­tracted mostly dirty, grubby peo­ple. In other words, Mason was clair­voy­ant. He would cer­tainly rec­og­nize today’s crop of sleazy huck­sters ped­dling free lunch, free money and free health care. And when the whole fraud­u­lent scheme col­lapses of its own weight, the huck­sters blame it on the peo­ple who warned it would col­lapse.

Mason au­thored the Vir­ginia Dec­la­ra­tion of Rights. Deemed “the first and great­est char­ter of hu­man lib­erty ever penned by man,” Mason’s list of rights in­spired Thomas Jef­fer­son’s Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence.

Mason later served as a del­e­gate to the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia and helped craft that doc­u­ment. But he ul­ti­mately re­fused to sign it be­cause, among other flaws, it lacked a bill of rights. Ob­vi­ously, not a man who craved fame or po­lit­i­cal for­tune.

He re­turned to Gun­ston Hall de­feated and dis­gusted. He took so­lace by en­gag­ing in what he knew to be the high­est call­ing of a man in a democ­racy: pri­vate cit­i­zen. He was a farmer, a trader, an in­vestor, a busi­ness­man, a fa­ther and a hus­band.

To Mason, that was the well-spring of power in a so­ci­ety. Not govern­ment.

“He de­clared that in a Re­pub­lic the cit­i­zen is him­self the State,” wrote a proud de­scen­dant decades later.

“He pre­ferred to re­main that ‘Lord of Cre­ation,’ the Amer­i­can Cit­i­zen, whose dig­nity and honor are above all Prin­ci­pal­i­ties and Pow­ers. The Amer­i­can Cit­i­zen is the Re­pub­lic it­self, and the tri­bunal of his au­thor­ity is set above the Throne of Kings.”

As Duck Dy­nasty’s Phil Robert­son would say, Ge­orge Mason was his own 911.

To Mason, govern­ment was never a sure thing. Free peo­ple be­grudg­ingly al­lowed it to ex­ist in a most limited form to serve a se­verely limited pur­pose. And if that govern­ment got out of line, free peo­ple would sim­ply dis­patch it and start over again. Or do without.

Look­ing around Wash­ing­ton today and try­ing to pick be­tween the all-see­ing, all-grop­ing, in­sa­tiably power-hun­gry big govern­ment Democrats and the all-see­ing, all-grop­ing, in­sa­tiably power-hun­gry big govern­ment Repub­li­cans, scrap­ping it all and start­ing over is not such a bad idea.

Years af­ter Ge­orge Mason re­turned to Gun­ston Hall from Philadel­phia and af­ter the Con­sti­tu­tion was rat­i­fied, his con­tin­ued calls for a bill of rights fi­nally took hold. Us­ing Mason’s Vir­ginia dec­la­ra­tions as a blue­print, James Madi­son wrote the Bill of Rights.

To this day, this list of rights is the only rea­son we have not been stripped of our guns. It is the only ves­tige of pro­tec­tion be­tween us and the govern­ment spies. It blazed the trail to crush the in­tol­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion of slav­ery — a re­sult that Mason quite pur­posely knew and pre­dicted would come from his de­mand of in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties.

As pal­try and vi­o­lated as our state of free­dom seems today, it has been worse for var­i­ous peo­ple at var­i­ous other times dur­ing our his­tory. Ev­ery time, it was the light cast far for­ward by Ge­orge Mason that each time led us home.

And so it will again. Which is why this Thanks­giv­ing, we should all pay our re­spects to the for­got­ten founder at Gun­ston Hall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.