The Father of the Bill of Rights on 'Fundamental Principles'

Lee Cary

George Mason defined what it takes for us to preserve the blessing of liberty in his first draft of the Virginia Bill of Rights.

Mason was one member of a committee of twenty-seven Virginians appointed to draft the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. Archibald Cary chaired the cumbersome committee. Mason took the lead in drafting the document.

His original version went through several renditions with major and minor alterations, but what eventually became Section 15 of the final document underwent no changes throughout the process.

In the final version, dated June 12, 1776, it read as Mason first wrote it:

15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, the nation has experienced a rebirth of interest in the U.S. Constitution and in early American history. The Tea Party movement has played a significant part in the resurgent interest in the "fundament principles" in the founding of this nation.

Above all other political issues big and small, the definition of those fundamental principles going forward may be what the next general election is mostly about.

"If I can only live to see the American union firmly fixed, and free governments well established in our western world, and can leave to my children but a crust of bread and liberty, I shall die satisfied." George Mason

 

George Mason defined what it takes for us to preserve the blessing of liberty in his first draft of the Virginia Bill of Rights.

Mason was one member of a committee of twenty-seven Virginians appointed to draft the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. Archibald Cary chaired the cumbersome committee. Mason took the lead in drafting the document.

His original version went through several renditions with major and minor alterations, but what eventually became Section 15 of the final document underwent no changes throughout the process.

In the final version, dated June 12, 1776, it read as Mason first wrote it:

15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, the nation has experienced a rebirth of interest in the U.S. Constitution and in early American history. The Tea Party movement has played a significant part in the resurgent interest in the "fundament principles" in the founding of this nation.

Above all other political issues big and small, the definition of those fundamental principles going forward may be what the next general election is mostly about.

"If I can only live to see the American union firmly fixed, and free governments well established in our western world, and can leave to my children but a crust of bread and liberty, I shall die satisfied." George Mason