George Mason: A Brief History

Mason, George; 1725-1792; judge and statesman; member Va. legislature, 1759 and a leader in the cause of American rights in opposition to British tyranny; author “Fairfax Resolves,” 1774;

member Va. Convention, 1775 and 1776– when he drafted Va. Declaration of Rights and a good part of Va. “Constitution;” in Va. legislature 1776-1780 and later; active in work leading up to 1787 Convention which framed U.S. Constitution, also as a member; did not sign Constitution and opposed ratification due to fear of inadequate limits on Federal power to prevent its becoming tyrannical; urged addition of “Bill of Rights;” was one of principal slave-owners (including Washington and Jefferson) who deplored existence of slavery and favored abolition, with compensation by government to owners of freed slaves.

Thomas Jefferson – A Brief History

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson – Born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high  social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then

read law. In 1772
he married Martha Wayles Skelton.

Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his
voice to the patriot cause. As the “silent member” of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In years following he labored to make its words
a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786.

Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785 and was Secretary of State in President Washington’s Cabinet.

As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, nevertheless urged Jefferson’s election.

When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.

He died on July 4, 1826.

Samuel Adams – A Brief History

Samuel AdamsSamuel Adams, lawyer, business man, statesman; pre-1776 leader in Boston for “Liberty and Independence,” notably as early as 1764 in opposing the Stamp Act; a leader of Mass. legislature 1765-1774, then a member (until 1781) of the Continental Congress, in which he continued to be a leader for “Liberty and Independence;”

author and co-author of many famous “Liberty” writings, including documents of the Mass. legislature and Resolutions of Town of Boston; signer of Declaration of Independence; member of Mass. Constitutional
Convention 1779-1780 which framed history’s first true Constitution; member for years of Mass. Senate and Council; member of Mass. Convention which ratified U.S. Constitution, 1788; Lt. Governor 1789- 1793, then Governor until 1797.