George Mason

George
Mason
1725
1792

American Patriot, Statesman, Delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, Virginia Bill of Rights

Author Quotes

Every selfish motive therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such a system of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights and happiness of the lowest than of the highest orders of Citizens.

If I can only live to see the American union firmly fixed, and free governments well established in our western world, and can leave to my children but a crust of bread and liberty, I shall die satisfied.

That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man bath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of twelve men of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty; nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty, except by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.

We claim Nothing but the Liberty and Privileges of Englishmen, in the same Degree, as if we had still continued among our Brethren in Great Britain: these Rights have not been forfeited by any Act of ours, we cannot be deprived of them without our Consent, but by Violence & Injustice; We have received them from our Ancestors and, with God’s Leave, we will transmit them, unimpaired to our Posterity.

Every society, all government, and every kind of civil compact therefore, is or ought to be, calculated for the general good and safety of the community.

If such amendments be introduced as shall exclude danger, I shall most gladly put my hand to it. When such amendments as shall, from the best information, secure the great essential rights of the people, shall be agreed to by gentlemen, I shall most heartily make the greatest concessions, and concur in any reasonable measure to obtain the desirable end of conciliation and unanimity.

That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.

We owe to our Mother-Country the Duty of Subjects but will not pay her the Submission of Slaves.

Government is, or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration and... when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

In all our associations; in all our agreements let us never lose sight of this fundamental maxim—that all power was originally lodged in, and consequently is derived from, the people. We should wear it as a breastplate, and buckle it on as our armor.

That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

We will not submit to have our own money taken out of our pockets without our consent; because if any man or any set of men take from us without our consent or that of our representatives one shilling in the pound we have not security for the remaining nineteen. We owe to our mother country the duty of subjects but will not pay her the submission of slaves.

Government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit and security of the people, nation or community; whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public Weal.

Mr. Chairman — A worthy member has asked, who are the militia, if they be not the people, of this country, and if we are not to be protected from the fate of the Germans, Prussians, &c. by our representation? I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people. If we should ever see that day, the most ignominious punishments and heavy fines may be expected. Under the present government all ranks of people are subject to militia duty.

That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge to be hereditary.

Whatever power may be necessary for the National Government a certain portion must necessarily be left in the States. It is impossible for one power to pervade the extreme parts of the U.S. so as to carry equal justice to them.

Happiness and prosperity are now within our reach; but to attain and preserve them must depend upon our own wisdom and virtue... Frequent interference with private property and contracts, retrospective laws destructive of all public faith, as well as confidence between man and man, and flagrant violations of the Constitution must disgust the best and wisest part of the community, occasion a general depravity of manners, bring the legislature into contempt, and finally produce anarchy and public convulsion.

No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually… I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor.

I am now pretty far advanced in life, and all my views are center'd in the Happiness and well-fare of my children; you will therefore find from me every Indulgence which you have a right to expect from an affectionate Parent.

No man has a greater regard for the military gentlemen than I have. I admire their intrepidity, perseverance, and valor. But when once a standing army is established, in any country, the people lose their liberty. When against a regular and disciplined army, yeomanry are the only defense — yeomanry, unskillful & unarmed, what chance is there for preserving freedom? Give me leave to recur to the page of history, to warn you of your present danger. Recollect the history of most nations of the world. What havoc, desolation, and destruction, have been perpetrated by standing armies? An instance within the memory of some of this house, — will shew us how our militia may be destroyed. Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British parliament was advised by an artful man, [Sir William Keith] who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them. But that they should not do it openly; but to weaken them and let them sink gradually, by totally diffusing and neglecting the militia. [Here MR. MASON quoted sundry passages to this effect.] This was a most iniquitous project. Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed?

That the legislative and executive powers of the State should be separate and distinct from the judiciary; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burdens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections, in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

When the same man, or set of men, holds the sword and the purse, there is an end of liberty.

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.

Author Picture
First Name
George
Last Name
Mason
Birth Date
1725
Death Date
1792
Bio

American Patriot, Statesman, Delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, Virginia Bill of Rights