MASON, James Murray (1798-1871)

MASON, JAMES MURRAY, a Representative and a Senator from Virginia; born on Analostan Island, Fairfax County, Va. (now Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, D.C.), November 3, 1798; studied under a private tutor and at an academy at Georgetown, D.C.; graduated from the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1818 and from the law department of William and Mary College at Williamsburg in 1820; admitted to the bar and practiced in Winchester, Va., in 1820 and 1821; delegate to the Virginia constitutional convention in 1829; member, State house of delegates 1826-1832, with the exception of 1827-1828; presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1832; elected as a Jackson Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1837-March 3, 1839); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1847 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Isaac S. Pennybacker; reelected in 1850 and 1856 and served from January 21, 1847, until March 28, 1861, when he withdrew; expelled from the Senate for support of the rebellion on July 11, 1861; served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth Congresses; chairman, Committee on Claims (Thirtieth Congress), Committee on the District of Columbia (Thirty-first Congress), Committee on Foreign Relations (Thirty-second through Thirty-sixth Congresses), Committee on Naval Affairs (Thirty-second Congress); delegate from Virginia to the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy; appointed commissioner of the Confederacy to Great Britain and France and while on his way to his post was taken from the British mail steamer Trent November 8, 1861, and confined in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor; released in January 1862; proceeded to London and represented the Confederacy until its downfall in April 1865; resided in Canada after the close of the war until 1868, when he returned to Virginia; died at "Clarens," near the city of Alexandria, Va, April 28, 1871; interment in Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery, Alexandria, Va.

Alabama Department of Archives and History
Montgomery, AL
Papers: In William Lowndes Yancey papers, 1834-1941; and Semmes family papers, 1859-1913.

Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 15 items.

Duke University
Special Collections Library
Durham, NC
Papers: 1835-1865. .10 foot. Personal and business papers, including comments on the Civil War, its campaigns, and Lincoln's assassination from Mason's perspective as the Confederacy's representative in England. Finding aid.

Gunston Hall Library
Lorton, VA
Papers: In Mason family papers, 1664-1897.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In Chew family papers, 1683-1896.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1838-1870. 9 containers. In part transcripts. Chiefly diplomatic communications sent while Confederate commissioner. Described in the Annual Report (1912-1913) and published guide (1918). Also correspondence in William Wilson Corcoran papers, 1791-1896.

New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
Papers: December 24, 1845 and August 15, 1856. 2 letters.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 5 items (1839-1961); and 2 letters (April 26, 1858 and December 19, 1861) in the Gilder Lehrman collection. Finding aid.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division
Madison, WI
Papers: In Charles Wilkes papers, 1801-1880.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 4 letters by and 1 to Mason (1850-1864) in various collections. Finding aid.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 22 items (1836-1871) in Mason family papers and other collections including personal correspondence, business papers, and portraits. Finding aids to some collections.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, VA
Papers: January 1853. 5 items. Mason's correspondence concerning James D. Graham's biological collections.
Additional Papers: 1 letter from Levin Powell (November 20, 1848); 1 letter (March 17, 1853) from Haym M. Salomon; 1 letter (February 19, 1853) from Ephraim George Squier; 1 letter (April 3, 1853) from Richard Rush; 1 letter (April 28, 1864) from William Smith; items in Custis-Lee-Mason letters, 1756-1863; and photographs.

Virginia State Library and Archives
Richmond, VA
Papers: 1837-1864. 11 letters. Finding aid.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In S. Griswold Flagg collection, 1825-1938.

  • Bugg, James L., Jr. "The Political Career of James Murray Mason: The Legislative Phase.'' Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1950.
  • Hubbard, Charles M. "James Mason, the 'Confederate Lobby' and the Blockade Debate of March 1862. Civil War History 45 (September 1999): 223-37.
  • Mason, Virginia, ed. The Public Life and Diplomatic Correspondence of James M. Mason, with Some Personal History. Roanoke, VA: Stone Printing Manufacturing Co., 1903.
  • Young, Robert W. Senator James Murray Mason: Defender of the Old South. Knoxvill: University of Tennessee Press, 1998.