US Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Junius Brutus Stearns, Washington as Statesman at the Constitutional Convention, 1856. Oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch (Photo: Katherine Wetzel, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Printed by Dunlap and Claypoole, Philadelphia, 1787, with ink annotations by George Mason
Lent by Chapin Library of Rare Books, Williams College

This draft of the United States Constitution was owned by George Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from Virginia. Mason served on the Committee of Style, which finalized the document, voted on it, and sent it to the states. On the four printed sides of the draft Mason made notes of changes to the text as the committee worked toward the document’s final wording. He was among the delegates who objected to the Constitution in its final form, and he expressed his reservations in extensive annotations on the back of his copy of the document. His annotated objections begin with the phrase, “There is no declaration of rights.” In the end, Mason refused to sign the new Constitution.