Virginia Declaration of Rights
A call for American independence from Britain, the Virginia
Declaration of Rights was drafted by George Mason in May
1776 and amended by Thomas Ludwell Lee and the Virginia Convention.
Thomas Jefferson drew heavily from it when he drafted the
Declaration of Independence one month later. This uniquely
influential document was also used by James Madison in drawing
up the Bill of Rights (1789) and by the Marquis de Lafayette
in drafting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789).
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional
Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
of Delegates to Congress contain correspondence to
and from George Mason. In addition, Mason's involvement
as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787
is documented in Farrand's
Contains correspondence with George Mason, including
Washington's draft of their joint Fairfax
The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820
George Mason was an investor, along with George Washington,
in the Ohio Valley Company. Enter "George Mason"
in the search
box for this collection.
Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
Contains a copy of the Virginia
Declaration of Rights as printed in the Virginia Gazette
on June 14, 1776.
Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827
Thomas Jefferson also corresponded with George Mason.
Enter "George Mason" in the search
box for this collection.
Creating the United States
This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. The exhibition contains two documents related to the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
Treasures of the Library of Congress - The Virginia Declaration
George Mason of Fairfax County, Virginia, wrote the Virginia
Declaration of Rights, on which the Declaration of Independence
and the Bill of Rights are modeled. Mason refused to support
the original Constitution because it failed to protect
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Madison's Copy of
"Bill of Rights"
In response to the demands of the anti-federalists for
amendments guaranteeing individual rights, James Madison
(1751-1836) drafted these twelve amendments to the Constitution.
Seen here in one of only two known copies of the preliminary
printing, these amendments were closely modeled on Mason's
Virginia Declaration of Rights.
The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence
on July 4, 1776.
Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final
draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
The Federalist Papers were a series of eighty-five essays
by "Publius," the pen name of Alexander Hamilton,
James Madison, and John Jay. The first appeared in the
New York Independent Journal
on October 27, 1787.
Confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens, the
new United States of America adopted the Bill of Rights,
the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, on
December 15, 1791.
America's Founding Documents: Bill of Rights, National Archives and Records
of the United States, Government Printing Office
Founders' Constitution, University of Chicago Press
and the Liberty Fund
Mason Online, Gunston Hall Plantation
Documents, Bill of Rights, National Archives and Records
Conley, Patrick, and John P. Kaminski, eds. The
Bill of Rights and the States: The Colonial and Revolutionary
Origins of American Liberties. Madison, Wis.: Madison
House, 1992. [Catalog
Hickok, Eugene W., Jr. The Bill of
Rights: Original Meaning and Current Understanding.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991.[Catalog
Miller, Helen Hill. George Mason:
Gentleman Revolutionary. Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1975. [Catalog
Rowland, Kate Mason. The Life of George
Mason, 1725-1792: Including His Speeches, Public Papers,
and Correspondence. New York: Russell & Russell,
Rutland, Robert A., ed. The Papers
of George Mason, 1725-1792. 3 vols. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1970. [Catalog
Banks, Joan. The U.S. Constitution.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001. [Catalog
Faber, Doris, and Harold Faber. We
the People: The Story of the United States Constitution
Since 1787. New York: Scribner's, 1987. [Catalog
Heymsfeld, Carla R., and Joan W. Lewis. George
Mason, Father of the Bill of Rights. Alexandria,
Va.: Patriotic Education Incorporated, 1991. [Catalog