Gunston Hall Plantation Discover George Mason Title
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Colony into Commonwealth
Lesson Four




Sometimes, a person's letters can tell us what he or she thinks about an important subject. This is true of our friends and relatives as well as of historical figures like George Mason.

In 1778, Mason wrote a letter to a friend in Great Britain. The friend was probably Mr. Brent, a young man from a planter family in Virginia. Mr. Brent may have been in Great Britain to go to school. Wealthy young men from the Colonies often went to Great Britain to study in the 18th century. This was true even at the time of the American Revolution!

(as a class)

1. Read Mason's letter which has been rewritten in modern language. Discuss: What important ideas does Mason express to Mr. Brent?

2. Take on the role of Mr. Brent from Virginia. In his letter, Mason wrote that a government must believe in the rights of the people. Do you agree with Mason? Can a government exist when

it does not believe in the rights of its citizens? As Mr. Brent, each student tape-records a response to Mr. Mason. When everyone has finished recording, listen to the tape as a class.

October 2, 1778    

My Dear Sir,

I was pleased to hear that you are doing well in Great Britain. I appreciate your concern about my family. It has been a busy time for all of us. As you know, I am most happy when I am at home. Lately, however, I have not spent much time on private affairs. Three years ago, I left retirement to serve in the House of Delegates for Virginia. I am doing this out of my great hope to see free government established in America. This is essential to the happiness and liberty of our children.

A government must believe in the rights of men and must work to protect them. I wrote all of this down two years ago in the Virginia Declaration of Rights. I am sending you my first draft of this document, which I know you will enjoy reading. I am pleased that other states in America have used it as a model for their own bills of rights.

Great Britain is saying that most people in America do not approve of the Revolution. It makes me angry to hear this lie. The people in our country are committed to their rights. They see a new government as the only means of saving these rights. This belief is growing stronger every day.

Your affectionate friend,

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