Constitutional Convention
Constitutional Convention

George Mason in Constitutional Convention

George Mason (1725-1792), a Virginian, was one of the most important delegates to the Constitutional Convention, one of the richest men in his state, and one of the most prominent Founding Fathers. was a Constitutional Convention delegate from Virginia (one of the most important delegates to the Convention), one of the richest men in his state, and one of the most prominent Founding Fathers.

In July 1787, Mason submitted a proposal to the Convention for a national executive consisting of one person, who would be chosen by the national legislature for seven years. There would be no second term. His blueprint for the presidency remained in effect until late August, when John Rutledge introduced a motion to elect the president by joint ballot (from the two houses of Congress). Ultimately it was decided that the choice would be given to the House of Representatives alone, so that future presidents would not become mere puppets of the Senate. George Mason successfully persuaded the convention to expand its definition of impeachable offenses in Article II, Section 4, to include "high crimes and misdemeanors" -a much broader, and more ambiguous, standard for removing the president. Mason was also one of the few Convention delegates who attempted to condemn the "nefarious institution" of slavery as a glaring anomaly within a republic. His unwavering standards ultimately led him to reject the Federal Constitution. Along with Edmund Randolph and Elbridge Gerry, he was one of the only Convention delegates who would not sign the Constitution because of his objections to the final draft. Mason was frustrated with the Convention's refusal to prohibit the slave trade immediately and-paradoxically-its failure to pass safeguards that would protect slaveowners against future government actions towards emancipation. He wanted to end the slave trade but to protect slavery as it then existed in the country. Mason was also alarmed by the Convention's rejection of a bill of rights. He argued that the new government would result in tyrannical aristocracy or monarchy.

Next Page: Elbridge Gerry
Previous Page: Alexander Hamilton

Need help with College?