France

Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
French playwright, spy, arms dealer, revolutionary; 1732—99.
Merchant, Continental congressman, diplomat to France; 1737—89.
French admiral, unsuccessful against British fleet at Newport; 1729—94.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
French sculptor who sometimes created his works from life-masks; 1741—1828.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
French aristocrat, Continental Army officer, like a son to Washington; 1757—1834.
Diplomat to France, Continental congressman; 1740—92.

Racial prejudice worked to perpetuate American slavery, even if it was not essential to sustain the institution. Slavery, serfdom, and peonage had existed elsewhere without racial connotations. Indeed, bondage had been so historically ubiquitous one might well ask why, by the 1760’s, it had come to trouble so many white Americans so much. The answer lies in part — and this part help explain why people like Mason did not act more aggressively on their concerns — in the reservations many whites felt about living alongside members of a supposedly inferior race, whether slave or free. The problem was inherent in American slavery, and emancipation, by undermining white control, would only make it worse.

Jeff Broadwater
George Mason: Forgotten Founder (2006)