George Mason letters to John Augustine Washington III C0315
Published by George Mason University Libraries
George Mason (1797-1870) was the grandson of George Mason IV of Gunston Hall (author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and namesake of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA). He was the second son of William Mason, George Mason IV's fourth son, and was married to Virginia Mason. Many of the descendants of George Mason IV were plantation owners and slaveholders until after the American Civil War.
John Augustine Washington III (1821-1861) was the great-grandnephew of George Washington. He inherited Washington's Mount Vernon estate, and (as noted by Matthew Costello) was the last Washington to own the plantation ('John Augustine Washington III'). Washington III, a slaveholder, served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War and was killed in 1861 at the Battle of Cheat Mountain.
The collection consists of two letters from George Mason to John Augustine Washington III. Both letters were written in the weeks after John Brown attempted to begin a slave insurrection at Harper's Ferry in what is now West Virginia. In the first letter, dated October 25, 1859, Mason is concerned about slaves and freed blacks in posession of guns in Fairfax County; he implores Washington to coordinate the seizure of these weapons using "a good and efficient patrol - all of native born men" raised specifically for the job. In the second letter, dated November 2, 1859, Mason suggests forming a Volunteer Company in the wake of John Brown's raid, and he inquires whether Upton Herbert, the Superintendent of Mount Vernon, would be willing to take command of it.
The letters are arranged chronologically.
There are no access restrictions.
There are no restrictions on personal use. Permission to publish material from the George Mason letters to John Augustine Washington III must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.
The Special Collections Research Center holds other collections from members of George Mason IV's family, including the Mason Family Manuscript Account Book, and documents from John M. Mason and Maynadier Mason in the Virginia historical documents collection.
Mason, George, 1797-1870
Washington, John Augustine, 1821-1861
Harper's Ferry (W. Va)--History--John Brown's Raid, 1859.
Digitized versions of the letters can be found here: George Mason letters to John Augustine Washington III.
George Mason letters to John Augustine Washington III, C0315, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.
Both letters purchased separately by the Special Collections Research Center in 2017.
Processing of the November 2, 1859 letter and EAD markup completed by Elizabeth Beckman in June 2018. Elizabeth Beckman, the Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, decided to add the October 25, 1859 letter, purchased separately(but from the same dealer), to the collection in July 2018. EAD markup was revised by Elizabeth Beckman.