Friday, May 31, 2013


Gunston Hall, Mason Neck, VA
Gunston Hall, River Front Prospect
Welcome to this first blog from and about Gunston Hall.  We all know the facts about Gunston: 18th century Georgian home of George Mason, American patriot, located on the Potomac River on 550 acres of spectacularly beautiful landscape.  George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights a compelling and bold statement of principles and rights published in June 1776 that influenced and served as a model for the founding principles and ideals of the yet-to-be-formed United States of America. What followed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights established the United States uniquely among countries as an experiment in government by, for and of the people. 

We strive to uphold and live those bold and compelling ideas in the 21st century.  We hold those principles of government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens as a civic religion.  This past weekend we welcomed 51 new Americans to that continuing experiment.  Gunston Hall in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services served as the setting for the swearing-in ceremony of these 51 citizens from 28 countries.  All of us at Gunston were honored to participate in this critical process of minting new American citizens.  Our 51 new citizens were jubilant and we, who facilitated this process, or came as speakers, friends, family members, witnesses were similarly jubilant.  It was a pleasure that required no effort on our part but untold effort on the part of those 51 people who came to the United States with hopes, desires, and aspirations.  This is not the first naturalization I have witnessed personally but each time I am moved in a core way.  Don’t take citizenship for granted – it is earned by so many with as many stories as there are Americans.    

Naturalization Candidates, Speakers and Witnesses, Oath of Allegiance
Naturalization Candidates, Speakers and Witnesses
just before the Oath of Allegiance was administered.

Gunston Hall is not only the home of George Mason, it is a place where history serves as an armature to explore, understand and dialogue about the many facets of what it means to be an American shaped by principles and ideas from over 200 years ago.  We do this in many forms and we want to do more to engage our visitors – online and in person.  Our intent in starting to blog is to expand your understanding of Gunston Hall through the perspective of staff and guest writers. We do a lot of educational, program-based, fun things here and we want to share more of them with you. 

Our promise to you – the blog will open the world of Gunston Hall to you.  We will blog weekly about history, George Mason and his family, the enslaved people who labored and lived here, the ideas of the mid-18th century and those of today.  We will invite guest writers to join us and cover topics that are important to communities, then and now.  We will even cover the flora and fauna of this gorgeous property. 

Leave us your comments and we will integrate your comments, questions and ideas into our blog.  The excitement of something new is we all shape it, if we want to.  Start reading and see where we are going.  Let us know your ideas and questions.  Looking forward to the dialogue…tell us what you think.    

Patrick Ladden
Interim Executive Director