Three Principal Meetings that Led to the Adoption of the Constitution of the United States

4890 Words20 Pages
Three Principal Meetings that Led to the Adoption of the Constitution of the United States There were three principal meetings that led to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, and only two Virginians attended all three. The meetings were the Mount Vernon Conference of 1785, the Annapolis Convention of 1786 and the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. James Madison was one attendee, and he is well known as the Father of the Constitution and our fourth President. George Mason was the other, yet his name does not spring to mind. Does George Mason deserve the accolade "Founding Father?" This paper will explore the political life of Mason and attempt to answer the question affirmatively. Before exploring Mason through his papers, his biographies and the papers of his contemporaries, it is necessary to decide what one must have done to be included in the list of our republic's founders. For purposes of this investigation, we must find that Mason's words or actions were influential in the document as finally ratified. While Mason's authorship of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is easily tied to the Bill of Rights, the question for this paper is whether Mason's handprints appear on the mold of our Constitution. Mason is well regarded as a political writer. "His three most brilliant papers - 'Extracts from the Virginia Charters', 'The Virginia Resolutions' and 'Declaration of Rights' have become immortalized as the very foundations of American democracy." Herbert Lawrence Ganter identified George Mason as an "eighteenth century champion of liberty for all." But these approbations are difficult to uncover. More commonly, one finds quotations such as "…the writings of the great thinkers of the age - Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams…" To adequately examine George Mason, a brief review of his pre-convention life and activities helps set up his provenance as a founding father. George Mason, the fourth so named in this lineage, was born about 1725. His father drowned during a squall while crossing the Potomac in 1735. His education was at the hand of his paternal uncle and co-guardian John Mercer of Marlborough who had "…assembled one of the outstanding libraries in the colony…" Mercer's collection was heavily weighted toward law and legal treatises but contained the currently popular classic literature as well as works on philosop... ... middle of paper ... ...ited States." In further debate, Colonel Mason moved to insert the words "increased or" before "diminished" in the proposed clause defining the compensation of judges, but this motion was voted down. On August 28, Mason objected to the clause denying States the right to interfere in private contracts. On August 29 Mason joined the fray on the issue of regulation of commerce and States' rights, again expressing his concern that southern states are a minority. On the issue of new western states, he suggested that they be treated equally, a view opposed to those who had moved to place superior power in the existing States. August 30 was a day of silence for Colonel Mason. On August 31, Mason supported those who felt that only nine States needed to ratify rather than ten as was on the table. Nine States had been acceptable for the Confederation and there was no valid reason to change. As August came to a close, Mason seconded the motion of Elbridge Gerry to postpone a decision on how and when the States should be allowed to ratify the Constitution. It was during this speech that Mason declared he would sooner chop off his right hand than put to the people the Constitution as it

More about Three Principal Meetings that Led to the Adoption of the Constitution of the United States

Open Document