Thomas Jefferson Knowledge Institute

George Mason

George MasonGeorge Mason is a less well-known founder, but it was his influence that resulted in a Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a statement of the inalienable rights of the colonists. His ideas, and some of his wording, were soon adopted by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and by the states in their own bills of rights. Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, became concerned that the new federal government was being given too much power, and the states too little. He refused to sign the ratification of the Constitution because it did not have a Bill of specific individual rights.

Mason was a proponent of a balance of power weighted toward the states. To counteract a central government that had become too powerful, he proposed, and the convention accepted, a second method of amending the Constitution, one that would completely bypass the federal government and allow the state legislatures full authority to propose and ratify amendments independently. See "Amending the Constitution."

Quotes pertaining to the Constitution