Although George Mason’s name is not famous today, it should be: Mason, a Virginia politician, authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, upon which the first part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is based, as well as the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. George Mason is considered, along with James Madison, one of the two “Fathers of the Bill of Rights.” Dedicated on April 9, 2002, the memorial consists of a bronze statue of Mason, dressed in 18th-century garb, from buckled shoes to tricorne hat, set back in a landscaped grove of trees and flower beds (lots and lots of pansies). Two stone slabs are inscribed with some of Mason’s words, like these, referring to Mason’s rejection of slavery: that slow poison, which is daily contaminating the minds & morals of our people. An interesting stand for a slave-owner to take, wouldn’t you say? Benches at the site present a pleasant opportunity to learn about Mason and take a break before moving on. Note: The memorial is easy to miss, because it does not lie on the Tidal Basin path. As you approach the Jefferson Memorial from the direction of the FDR Memorial, or as you approach the FDR Memorial from the direction of the Jefferson, you’ll come to the bridge that arches over the inlet leading from the Tidal Basin to the Potomac River; look straight across from the bridge, and there you’ll see it.
- Elise Hartman Ford