Charles Mason (attorney)

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For other people named Charles Mason, see Charles Mason (disambiguation).

Charles Mason (1804 – February 27, 1882) was born in New York and became a patent attorney, taught engineering, and was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Iowa from 1838 to 1847.

However, today Mason is perhaps most remembered as the cadet who graduated first in the class of 1829 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, ahead of future Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee. Mason and Lee were tied for the head of the class in [Artillery, Tactics, and Conduct], but Mason bested Lee in all other subjects and graduated with an overall score of 1995.5 points out of a possible 2000, compared to Lee's 1966.5. Mason resigned his commission two years after graduation in 1831. They also finished first and second in the entire history of the school, and are still the best to this day, the third best being Douglas MacArthur.

Later, he was president of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad from 1852 to 1853, and United States Commissioner of Patents from 1853 to 1857. He ran as the Democratic candidate for Governor of Iowa in 1867, but was defeated by Samuel Merrill.