But Washington didn't just adopt the Virginia gentry's lifestyle; he also accepted its ideology. Many in Virginia had what has come to be called a "colonial Whig" mentality. Essentially, such colonists believed that the British Empire had become corrupted, that its core was rotten. While it might once have been a boon to the world, now it pursued a politics that benefitted a small group of British elites at the expense of everyone else. The British Crown, they argued, was hostile to freedom and was undermining the great British historical tradition of "rights." It was an empire in moral decline, which needed either to be reformed or to cede its place to a new champion of freedom. These ideas were first developed by political theorists in Britain who belonged the "Country Party," then spread like wildfire among Virginia's planter elite. Washington's friend, the erudite George Mason, exposed him to these new ideas, and he eventually came to share them.blank" rel="nofollow">House of Burgesses, taking strong stands against the Crown. As a former military man, he realized that those stands could mean war. But if war came, so be it. At stake was Washington's own livelihood, and the future of North America—maybe even the future of freedom itself.