George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which inspired both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. He later served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. But he refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not abolish the slave trade and because it lacked adequate protection for the individual from the national government.
The Memorial is set within a historic garden. It features a larger-than-life bronze statue of George Mason seated on a stone bench below a 72-foot-long trellis. He looks casual and pensive. A few books reflect the patriot’s thoughtful nature and philosophical contributions to the cause of American independence. Mason holds Cicero’s De Officiis in his right hand. To his left are John Locke’s On the Conduct of the Understanding and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du Social Contract. On his right are a tri-corner hat and a walking stick, establishing him as a mature figure of the 18th century.
The Memorial displays several of Mason’s quotations, including this one, adopted and adapted by Thomas Jefferson into the Declaration on Independence:
All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights … among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
The Memorial is located in East Potomac Park, an island just south of the Tidal Basin. It was the first memorial in the area dedicated to someone who was not a former President of the United States. Its peaceful and quiet setting befits Mason’s thoughtful nature. It is a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial, symbolizing the two Virginians’ close association in the American founding.
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What to Know before You Go to the George Mason Memorial
The George Mason Memorial is located in East Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian on the blue, orange, and silver lines. There is also limited parking nearby.
The Memorial is open 24/7 and free of charge to explore. Allow 20-30 minutes.
Hotels within walking distance include:
Planning travel to the mid-Atlantic? You might like:
- Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum in Baltimore, Maryland
- Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover, Delaware
- Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.
I fell in love with travel on a trip to Mexico when I was nine years old. Since then, I’ve travelled the globe from Israel to El Salvador. I’ve skied the Swiss Alps and hiked national parks like Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, and Virgin Islands. I’ve marvelled at masterpieces in the Prado, the Uffizi, the Huntington, and the National Gallery of Art. I’ve stayed in a cabin on a mountaintop in Norway and on a kibbutz along the Sea of Galilee, and been kicked out of the Ritz at the Place Vendôme. I’ve taken cooking classes from New England to the Caribbean, and watched a chef prepare traditional shakshuka in the kitchen of his restaurant in Tel Aviv. I weave historical research and my personal experiences together in writing this blog. I hope you find it helpful. Read more …