On Saturday morning, October 12, 2019, the Colonel William Grayson Chapter was host to George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which later served as inspiration for the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
The chapter meeting saw the induction of four new compatriots, Randy R. Baker, Michael James Blythe, Herbert Dandridge Campbell Jr. and David DeForest Haught.
Four of our compatriots were also honored for their service in the United States Military. The War Service Medal was awarded to Geoffrey Lyster, David Haught and Michael Wilson, and the Military Service Medal was awarded to Michael Blythe.
After lunch George Mason shared with us his personal experiences during the drafting of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the conflicts that developed in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. He was adamant that the new Federal Constitution should include a Bill of Rights similar to the one found not only in the Virginia Constitution, but in the constitutions of several other states.
There was a rift between him and those who felt a Bill of Rights was not needed, that the Constitution could stand on its own as a document that put limits on the federal government without the need for an affirmative statement of specific rights. Mason said that he did not trust human nature, and that without the enumeration of specific rights, the federal government would eventually infringe on the rights of all Americans.
As a result, Mason was one of three who refused to sign the new Constitution, Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts being the other two. He said this drove a wedge between him and his friend and neighbor, George Washington, a rift that never healed. Even though the Bill of Rights did eventually make it into the Constitution, George Mason was on the wrong side of the original vote on the U.S. Constitution.
George Mason was portrayed by Don McAndrews, a member of the Colonel William Grayson Chapter, who is much in demand as an in-character portrayer of Colonial and Revolutionary War notables, the most notable being his frequent appearances as Benjamin Franklin. Don has also appeared in character in 6 films.
Photo 1: Inductees, Ladies and Chapter President, after pinning on of lapel pins. L-R, Randy Baker and his lady Junie Parmer, Michael Blythe, H.D. Campbell and his lady Rosemarie Sheerin, David Haught, and President Michael Weyler
Photo 2: George Mason of Gunston Hall, Primary Author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, as portrayed by Don McAndrews
Photo 3: Certificate of Appreciation given to George Mason, aka Don McAndrews