George Mason

George Mason was known to be a notable, honest man and till this day is known as that man. George Mason was a huge part of our history, he was born on December 11, 1725 on a Potomac River plantation which is now modern day Fairfax County, Virginia. He was born into a very wealthy family; the Mason’s were defined as “old money.” At the age of 10, his father passed away in a boating accident, leaving his upbringing in the care of his mother and his uncle, John Mercer. George Mason’s education was primarily shaped by the 1,500 books his uncle had possessed, which contained books that dealt with law, navigation rights and land contracts. By becoming his own teacher and becoming self-taught, Mason soon became highly knowledgeable in law and business. With that knowledge he acquired, Mason was given the power/authority in law. If Mason were to take the Strengths Finder assessment, he would come to find out that he likes to constantly be challenged and learn new things to feel successful, which is known as the Learners strength. The theory of logotherapy means that the nature of humans is driven by the search for a life purpose, this was developed by a psychiatrist and neurologist, Victor Frankl. Mason was a huge advocate for self-governance and the rights of each individual person. Mason shows logotherapy by taking an interest in law and educating himself to help himself and others around him. 
Mason turned 21 in the year of 1746 and inherited 20,000 acres of Virginia land. Mason knew how to successfully run a plantation, knew about land, surveying, agronomy, market analysis, contract law and managing people, which he performed on his received land. Mason was highly praised for his successful skills during this time. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist, proposed that there are three levels of ‘work’, which include job, career, and calling. George Mason’s work on his land would be known to be his job, this job was something to support him to live in the moment and to make money. Shortly after, Mason married the love of his life, Ann Thomas Mason, formally known as Ann Eilbeck. They had nine living children together. George Mason and Ann had chosen to get their home, Gunston Hall, built halfway between Williamsburg and Philadelphia. Mason did not care much for travelling, so he had chosen this location in hopes of people stopping by to see him on their way to either Williamsburg or Philadelphia. There are three types of happiness, according to Martin Seligman, which include, the life of engagement, the meaningful life, and the pleasant life. Mason was busy with his work due to the visitors he had been receiving and was also close to his wife and family, this part of mason’s life would be considered the life of engagement.

Mason was known to be one of the greatest mentors of his time, mentoring Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. The reason people were so keen and took Mason’s advice was not only because of his wisdom, but because it was coming from a person who was not competing against them in office. When taking the Strengths Finder assessment, communication would be another one of his top strengths. A communicator is someone who uses words to inspire action and education, which Mason does by being a mentor to these individuals by giving them good words of advice.

The topic of slavery was a huge deal to Mason as he was immeasurably against it. He was so against it that he even refused to sign the Constitution, which he had a huge part in preparing, all because it did not end the slave trade. Mason openly spoke up about how he thought the slaves should be freed and the trading of slaves should be diminished completely. Mason’s conflict with his conscience and consciousness comes into play in the scenario that although he was so against slavery, he still had owned a few slaves himself which contradicted whatever he was against. Also, Mason was a man who believed in the importance of self-governance and the rights of an individual, this was something that mattered entirely to Mason. His conscience is telling him that slavery is wrong and that having people held against their will is unjust to them and it is against everything he believes in. His consciousness on the other hand, is telling him that if he does free the few slaves he has then his children will not have a good upbringing as the slaves’ core values will not be instilled in his children.

At the age of 25 Mason took more of an initiative towards politics despite his lack of desire for it. The political part of his life would be considered his career when referring back to Roy Baumeister’s three levels of work. Mason had the opportunity to grow and was progressively moving from one level of achievement to another in the public office.

He became a justice for the Fairfax County court, then became a trustee of the city of Alexandria between 1754 and 1779 & later was elected into the Virginia House of Burgesses. In his newfound political career, he found himself travelling more and being away from his home and family much more than he had hoped for. He did not want his children to feel the emptiness he had felt without his father after his passing.

In 1773 Mason’s wife passed away after a marriage of 23 years. This left Mason devastated and at the age of 48, he had become a widower and was left to care for nine children all by himself. He had taken on this role with much seriousness and had moved back home to be with his children in Gunston Hall. It wasn’t until after the war that Mason got remarried to Sarah Brent, a 50-year-old daughter of a family friend. Mason had only married her for friendship and to solely have someone be there for him, it was by no means a marriage of love that he had with Ann. Dan Gilbert, professor of psychology proposed that there are two kinds of happiness: synthetic and natural. Synthetic happiness is what we make of a situation when we don’t receive what we want and natural happiness is what we feel when we receive what we want. When married to Ann, Mason was naturally happy with Ann because of how in love he was with her and for the family they had together. After marrying Sarah and taking care of his children with her, he experienced synthetic happiness as having to lose his wife and get remarried was not what he had wanted. Despite that, he did what was best for him and his family.

Shortly after, Mason had gone forth to write the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which had stated that that each individual had inalienable rights. This also influenced Jefferson while he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Mason was then appointed to represent Virginia at the Constitutional Convention, which he was not very pleased about. Despite him not being happy to attend, he was very vocal at the convention about his plans for freeing the slaves and the urgency for a bill of rights to be added. There are four needs for meaning which include: purpose, values, efficacy, and self-worth. Mason’s life had meaning in all four of the ways listed when he had spoken up about his opinions at the convention. Mason had felt that it was his purpose, or objective, for every individual to realize that they all had inalienable rights and to free the slaves. These were the values he had full faith in, he practiced efficacy when he openly spoke about his beliefs to the other representatives and tried to get them to accept and understand what he was saying. Mason knew his self-worth, he knew that standing up for himself and to stand up for what’s right was the correct thing to do. Despite not succeeding in either granting the slaves freedom or getting a bill of rights added, he stayed firm in his views and stood up for and had refused to sign the Constitution. Mason had felt great satisfaction when Madison had introduced the Bill of rights to him. Mason then died of malaria on October 7, 1792 and had chosen to be buried next to Ann, his first wife, despite his remarriage. Psychologist and author Carol Pearson, in her book Awakening the Heroes Within, wrote that there are twelve archetypes and one archetype pertains to a person more prominently than the other archetypes. We could claim that the archetype that fits Mason the best would be the Lover archetype because of the kind of love he possesses. In this case, although he got remarried to Sarah, his love for Ann remains genuine and real because he had chosen to be buried next to her, his true love. This is an example of what Mason would want us to hold in our own consciousness about his life if he were able to speak to us today, to believe in the power of love.

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