Oil on canvas; 124.5 x 100.3 x 2.5 cm (49 x 39 1/2 x 1 in). National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.
David Rittenhouse, 1796
[George] Mason’s obvious legacy is in his contribution to America’s founding documents: the Declaration of Independence through the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Constitution through his role at the Philadelphia Convention, and the Bill of Rights through his dogged opposition to a Constitution without one. Mason may have taken a circumscribed view of the rights he advocated — limiting the right of representation to white men or restricting freedom of the press to a ban on prior restraint — but he put words on paper that could be given more expansive meanings by later generations.