George Mason was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A Virginia statesman, he drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. He was a leader of those who pressed for explicit States rights and individual rights in the U.S. Constitution as a balance to the increased federal powers.
He did not sign the Constitution in part because it lacked such a statement. His efforts eventually succeeded in convincing the Federalists to add the first ten amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.
On the nagging issue of slavery, Mason walked a fine line. He was a slaveholder but found slavery repugnant. He wanted to ban further importation of slaves from Africa and prevent slavery from spreading to more states. However, he did not want the new federal government to to able to ban slavery where it already existed, because he anticipated that such an act would be difficult and controversial. Oh boy, was he ever right!
Here is a quote by him, May 1776, from his draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights: "All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights...among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
Cheers to Mr. Mason, who helped form the bedrock of our liberty in this country, a liberty that our Southern forebears tried to protect, and a liberty that we must be ever vigilant to safeguard today. Mason, You Rock!