The political career of James Murray Mason: the legislative phase

Bugg, James L, Department of History, University of Virginia

Within his allotted span of a little more than three score years and ten, James Murray Mason enjoyed two notable careers. The first was that of state legislator, Congressmen and Senator; the second was that of diplomatist. This study is concerned with the first career, which covers the major portion of the Virginia statesman's life. It traces his career from his birth in 1798 to hie departure for Europe in 1861 as Confederate Commissioner.

There were few political leaders who were better known to their fellow citizens in the decade which preceded the Mar for Southern Independence than James M. Mason. He was greatly loved and as greatly hated, but he was rarely Ignored; yet he has in general been dealt with unkindly by American historians. He is often dismissed witha brief comment on his success as a diplomat. And even when there has been some effort made to interpret him, evaluations of unfriendly contemporaries have often been repeated with little attempt mode to question their validity.

Today, the mention of his name, even to many students of American History, brings only a polite nod or a vague recollection that he was captured on the Trent. Often he is consuted with John Y. Mason, the American Minister to France who was one of the authors of the Ostend Manifesto.

In this study I have sought to reevaluate the legislative phase of Mason's public career in the light of the surviving evidence. I have attempted to avoid both the uncritical praise of the admirer and the undue harshness of the cynic. Because I believe that it is impossible for a biographer to attain complete objectivity, I have thought it wise to let Mason interpret himself to the reader wherever possible. In discussing the life of Meson, I have woven the chief events of his political career around the history of Virginia and the nation from 1826 to 1861, hoping that the reader might thus obtain a fuller and more complete picture of the man himself.

I expect eventually to expand this study into a full length biography of the Virginia statesman end diplomatist. It is hoped that such & biography will rescue one of the more important figures of the controversial decade from 1850 to 1860 from ill-deserved oblivion, and restore him to his proper place in the history of the period.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
James Murray Mason, political career

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-04-22 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:36:37.

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