George Mason Memorial

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George Mason Memorial
George Mason Memorial (December 2014).jpg
George Mason Memorial[1]
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
Map showing the location of George Mason Memorial
LocationWashington, D.C., United States
Coordinates38°52′46″N 77°2′21″W / 38.87944°N 77.03917°W / 38.87944; -77.03917Coordinates: 38°52′46″N 77°2′21″W / 38.87944°N 77.03917°W / 38.87944; -77.03917
EstablishedAuthorized: 1990
Groundbroken: 2000
Dedicated: 2002
Governing bodyNational Park Service
WebsiteGeorge Mason Memorial

The George Mason Memorial is a national memorial to Founding Father George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights that inspired the United States Bill of Rights. The Memorial is located in West Potomac Park within Washington, D.C. at 24 E Basin Drive SW, which is a part of the Tidal Basin.[2] Authorized in 1990, with a groundbreaking in 2000 and dedication in 2002, the memorial includes a sculpture of Mason, a pool, trellis, circular hedges, and numerous inscriptions. This is the first memorial to be dedicated not to a former president in the Tidal Basin.[2]


The memorial commemorates the contributions of Mason, a Founding Father who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, served as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and created much of the language, inspiration, and groundwork for what became the United States Bill of Rights. Mason, an Anti-Federalist, did not sign the United States Constitution because it did not abolish the slave trade and because he did not think it had necessary protection for the individual from the federal government.[3] He was sometimes known as the "reluctant statesman", which was also the title of a biography written about him by Robert A. Rutland.[4]


The memorial was authorized by Public Law 101-358 on August 10, 1990, to be developed by the board of regents of Gunston Hall.[5] The landscape architect was Faye B. Harwell and the sculptor was Wendy M. Ross. The groundbreaking was October 18, 2000, and the completed memorial was dedicated on April 9, 2002.[2]


The George Mason Memorial is currently administered as part of the National Park Service and is within the jurisdiction of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.[2] The George Mason Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the D.C. War Memorial are the only three National Mall sites where weddings are permitted.[6]


Panorama of the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, the location of the memorial.[7]

The memorial is at 900 Ohio drive, one of several outdoor public art installations within Ward 2 of the District. It is located near the intersection of Ohio Drive and East Basin Drive.[8] The site is within the southwest quadrant of the District of Columbia, within West Potomac Park.[8] The memorial is in an area most commonly referred to as the Tidal Basin.[9]


Close-up view of the statue[10]

The design features a 72-foot (22 m) long stone wall with a one-third larger than life-sized statue[11] of a sitting Mason, his legs crossed, and a circular pool with a fountain.[12] Mason leans back on his left hand to ponder something from Cicero's De Officiis which he holds closed on his right index finger. Two other volumes, On Understanding by John Locke and Du Contract Social by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, sit on the bench to Mason's left. Mason's walking stick leans on his hat which sits on the bench to his right.[9]


Memorial inscription[13]

The circular hedges and pool are supported by a 9 ft × 72 ft (2.7 m × 21.9 m) trellis that curves around the back of the memorial. [14]Underneath the trellis are three walls with inscriptions that are 4 feet (1.2 m) high,[14] which include the following quotes:

"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"[15]

"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"[15]

"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"[15]

"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"[15]

"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"[15]


  1. ^ December 2014
  2. ^ a b c d Yates 2002; [[#CITEREF|]].
  3. ^ Jarvis 2016b; [[#CITEREF|]].
  4. ^ Rutland 1980; [[#CITEREF|]].
  5. ^ 101st Congress 1990; [[#CITEREF|]].
  6. ^ Ruyle 2012; Montgomery 2015; [[#CITEREF|]].
  7. ^ Taken 23 July 2007
  8. ^ a b Jarvis 2014; [[#CITEREF|]].
  9. ^ a b Coleman 2016 "... George Mason Memorial lies on the southern side of the Tidal Basin."; [[#CITEREF|]].
  10. ^ December 2014
  11. ^ another bronze statue of George Mason can be found on the George Madon University campus in Fairfax, VA
  12. ^ Dolan 2001c; [[#CITEREF|]].
  13. ^ December 2014
  14. ^ a b Dolan 2001a; [[#CITEREF|]].
  15. ^ a b c d e Dolan 2001b; [[#CITEREF|]].


  • 101st Congress (1990-08-10), An act to authorize the Board of Regents of Gunston Hall to establish a memorial to George Mason in the District of Columbia
  • Coleman, David (2016). "George Mason Memorial Tidal Basin, Washington DC". Have Camera Will Travel. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  • Dolan, Susan (2001a). "George Mason Memorial - Trellis". List of Classified Structures. Archived from the original on 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  • Dolan, Susan (2001b). "George Mason Memorial - Inscription Walls". List of Classified Structures. Archived from the original on 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  • Dolan, Susan (2001c). "George Mason Memorial - Statue". List of Classified Structures. Archived from the original on 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  • Jarvis, Jonathan B. (2014-10-20), National Mall Map, National Park Service
  • Jarvis, Jonathan B. (22 March 2016a), "History of the Cherry Trees", Cherry Blossom Festival, National Park Service, archived from the original on 2016-03-22, retrieved 2016-03-22
  • Jarvis, Jonathan B. (15 Feb 2016b). George Mason Memorial. Washington, DC: National Park Service.
  • Montgomery, David (2015-09-15). "In the stories it tells, the National Mall reflects America's state of constant change". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  • Rehnquist, William (April 27, 2001). "Remarks by William R. Rehnquist". United States Supreme Court. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  • Rutland, Robert A. (1980-04-01). George Mason: Reluctant Statesman. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-5343-7.
  • Ruyle, Megan (2012-02-14). "Plan for a capital wedding" (Text). TheHill. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  • Sadon, Rachel (April 8, 2015). "Use The Tinder Of Cherry Trees To Have A Personal Cherry Blossom Festival". DCist. Archived from the original on April 26, 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  • Yates, George (April 8, 2002). "George Mason National Memorial by Rhodeside & Harwell Incorporated". Architecture News Now. Retrieved 7 February 2017.

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