The George Mason Memorial, located in East Potomac Park near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, commemorates the neglected contributions of an important Founding Father. George Mason was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which served as an inspiration to Thomas Jefferson while drafting the Declaration of Independence. Mason later served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Perhaps Masons' greatest act was withholding his signature from the United States Constitution because it did not abolish the slave trade and lacked necessary protection for the individual from the Federal Government.
By including a tasteful memorial to George Mason within the already established "Pansy Garden," allowed for the upgrading of the existing landscape. The simple additions of a trellis, benches, and a seated statue of George Mason are not obtrusive to the older garden, and in fact give it a more historical significance. The overall modestly elegant design of the memorial reflect Mason's unpretentious character, and the location selected, being near the Jefferson Memorial, is symbolic to the close association the two men had concerning civil rights.
The seventy two foot long trellis curves around the back of the memorial and allows it to co-exist with the circular hedges, and pool, as well as the plant patterns. The trellis is only nine feet tall so as not to dominate the garden. The three walls underneath it are four feet tall and inscribed with some of Mason's most insightful writings. In proportion to these features is the life size bronze statue of Mason sculpted by Wendy Ross. The statue depicts Mason sitting casually on the center bench, with two bronze books on one side and his tri-corner hat and walking stick on the other. His expression is contemplative and inviting.
Since the memorial's dedication on April 9, 2002, visitors have been able to stroll into the quiet garden, enjoy the beautiful annual flowers and learn about the man responsible for the first Bill of Rights.
This was George Mason, a man of the first order of wisdom among those who acted on the theatre of the revolution, of expansive mind, profound judgment, cogent in argument.... Thomas Jefferson, 1821
Regarding slavery.... that slow poison, which is daily contaminating the minds and morals of our people. Every gentlemen here is born a petty tyrant. Practiced in acts of despotism and cruelty, we become callous to the dictates of humanity, and all the finer feelings of the soul. Taught to regard a part of our own species in the most abject and contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of the dignity of man, which the hand of nature had implanted in us, for great and useful purposes.... George Mason, July 1773
I recommend it to my sons.... never to let the motives of private interest or ambition to induce them to betray, nor the terrors of poverty and disgrace or the fear of danger or of death deter them from asserting the liberty of their country, and endeavoring to transmit to their posterity those sacred rights to which themselves were born. George Mason, March 1773
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. George Mason, May 1776
The first declaration of rights which truly deserves the name is that of Virginia... and its author is entitled to the eternal gratitude of mankind. Marquis de Condorcet, Paris 1789
Stones and Mortar
National Mall Map
Navigate your way to the George Mason Memorial using the award-winning National Mall map. Download high-res versions and low-res versions of the map below to print or bring along on your smartphone. Once you're on the National Mall, you'll find this map posted in various locations.
Last updated: April 10, 2015