Letter of George Mason to George Washington, October 7, 1787
While George Mason was on his way back to Virginia from Philadelphia, where he had refused to sign the proposed Constitution and where he had written his long list of defects that required amendment before it could be made acceptable, his carriage overturned and he was seriously injured. The pain and inconvenience of his injury added to his deep disappointment about the Constitution. Shortly after he returned home, he wrote to his old friend and collaborator George Washington, reporting the latest agricultural news, giving a brief account of his accident, and sending a copy of his objections to the Constitution. Mason, in effect, insisted that his objections be made part of the agenda of the Virginia ratifying convention in order gauge public opinion on what he regarded as capital defects in the Constitution. Mason also seriously considered during that autumn and winter asking that a new convention be called to rewrite the Constitution. His insistence on sharply criticizing the work of the convention and his insinuations that unworthy purposes motivated supporters of the Constitution so angered Washington that it ended their long friendship.
1. Where was George Mason when he wrote this letter? To where did he address it?
2. Who does Mason blame for failing to address his objections?
3. What does Mason threaten in this letter?
1. What is the tone of Mason's letter? Does the tone change during of the course of the letter?
2. Read Mason's Objections to the proposed United States Constitution. Do you think his description of the objections in this letter to Washington was accurate? Why or why not?
Broadwater, Jeff. George Mason: Forgotten Founder. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
Henriques, Peter R. "An Uneven Friendship: The Relationship between George Washington and George Mason." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 97, no. 2 (April 1989): 185–204.
Tarter, Brent. "George Mason and the Conservation of Liberty." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 99, no. 3 (July 1991): 279–304.