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Making A Nation
Lesson Two



The longest trip George Mason ever took was to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia. Usually, wealthy planters in colonial Virginia traveled a lot. But Mason enjoyed his home so much that he often had to be persuaded to leave.

Going on a trip in early America was very different than it is in modern times. Mason owned a carriage and had a coachman who drove and maintained it. Mason rode in his carriage to Philadelphia.

Today, it takes about three hours to travel from Gunston Hall to Philadelphia. Mason's journey lasted four days. Most of the roads along the way were of dirt. During storms, these roads often became too muddy for carriages.

There were other problems, like potholes, that drivers still face. During the trip, Mason's carriage turned over. This may have happened because of a pothole! Several weeks later, Mason wrote to George Washington that his head and neck still hurt from the accident. Can you think of other reasons why a trip would take a long time in the 1700s?

We do not know the route that Mason took from Gunston Hall to Philadelphia. However, we know the roads other people at that time used to travel from Virginia to Philadelphia. So, we can figure out the route he may have taken.


1. The map is based on a map available to travelers in the 18th century. Starting at Gunston Hall, draw the route Mason may have taken to the Convention. Include the places listed below.

A. Mt. Vernon
B. Alexandria
C. Bladensburg
D. Baltimore
E. Joppa
F. Charlestown
G. New Castle
H. Wilmington
I. Chester
J. Philadelphia

2. List the states that Mason visited on his journey to Philadelphia.



3. In most cases, Mason used a ferry to get across a river. How many ferries did he probably take on the trip to Philadelphia? __________

List the rivers he probably crossed.



4. What state could Mason have visited by crossing the Delaware River?


5. Get a 20th-century map and plot out a route on modern roads from Gunston Hall to Philadelphia. How does this route compare to the one that Mason may have taken?




Explore the changes in methods of transportation. Interview one of your grandparents (or someone your grandparent's age) to find out the forms of transportation they used when they were young. Ask questions like: What models of cars were popular? What was train travel like? How long did it take to get from one place to another? Write down what this person tells you and share it with your class.

Prepare a timeline for your class bulletin board. Find or make illustrations which show the methods of transportation beginning with the year 1725. Predict the future and add a form of transportation that we may have in 2025!

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Gunston Hall Plantation
Mason Neck, Virginia 22079
703.550.9480 fax

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