George Mason and Gunston Hall

The Northern Neck region is teeming with important founding fathers.  George Mason, whose Declaration of Rights laid the groundwork for the current Bill of Rights to the Constitution, is another patriot who well represented Virginia and furthered freedoms for Americans.  In fact, George Mason put Frank on the road to the Continental Congress and subsequent signature on the Declaration of Independence.

Frank was not originally chosen to represent Virginia in the First Continental Congress.  During the dramatic summer of 1775, Frank did serve on the Virginia Convention.  However, during this summer Virginia delegate Richard Bland became ill and sought a replacement.  The first choice was George Mason.

Mason, however, routinely avoided public office.  Politically clever Mason, though, saw his refusal as an opportunity to nominate a high quality candidate and a fellow Northern Neck man to boot.  Frank was Mason’s top choice. He wrote, “I took the occasion at the same time to recommend Colo. Francis Lee.”  The other Virignia delegates agreed with Mason’s nomination and elected Lee to the Convention with an easy majority. Frank Lee, upon hearing of his election, made quick preparations and him and Rebecca packed up and moved to Philadelphia, not to return to Menokin until 1778. [1]

George Mason authored the first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. His Declaration was the first document in America to call for freedom of the press, religious tolerance, restricting unreasonable searches, and the right to a fair trial.  He was a member of the Constitutional Convention, but ultimately refused to sign the new Constitution due to his disagreement over the power of the federal government and the continuation of the slave trade. [2]

So next time you’re in the Northern Neck region, stop by Gunston Hall and pay your respects to George Mason and thank him for nominating Frank to the Convention and for believing in his political acumen and patriotic fervor.

Gunston Hall is open every day (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm.  For more information, visit their website.

[1]  Camille Wells, “Frank Lee’s Achievements,” (working paper, The Menokin Foundation, 1997), 23.
[2] “George Mason,” Gunston Hall: Home of George Mason

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