George Mason of Gunston Hall is often referred to by scholars as “The Reluctant States Man” for his preference of private life over public office. Yet when he was called upon to serve his country he answered, serving as a representative in Virginia’s state legislature, as one of Virginia’s delegates at the Constitutional Convention, and other public offices. Through his authorship of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, George Mason inspired not only the Declaration of Independence and the United States Bill of Rights but also the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
George Mason IV was born in 1725 to a well-established Virginia gentry’s family. As eldest son, George Mason inherited all of his father’s land. Adding additional acreage through land purchases, he would eventually create a 5,500 acre estate. Like his fellow plantation owners, his estate was worked by slaves.