World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

John Y. Mason

Article Id: WHEBN0021825536
Reproduction Date:

Title: John Y. Mason  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: James K. Polk, United States Secretary of the Navy, Charles J. Faulkner, Charles Bonaparte (Attorney General), List of United States Cabinets
Collection: 1799 Births, 1859 Deaths, 19Th-Century American Diplomats, Ambassadors of the United States to France, American Planters, American Proslavery Activists, Burials at Hollywood Cemetery (Richmond, Virginia), Jacksonian Members of the United States House of Representatives, Judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia, Members of the Virginia House of Delegates, People from Greensville County, Virginia, Polk Administration Cabinet Members, Tyler Administration Cabinet Members, United States Attorneys General, United States Federal Judges Appointed by Martin Van Buren, United States Secretaries of the Navy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Alumni, Virginia Democrats, Virginia Jacksonians, Virginia Lawyers, Virginia State Senators
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Y. Mason

John Young Mason
United States Minister to France
In office
October 10, 1853 – October 3, 1859
Appointed by Franklin Pierce
Preceded by William Cabell Rives
Succeeded by John Bigelow
16th and 18th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
President John Tyler
Preceded by Thomas W. Gilmer
Succeeded by George Bancroft
In office
September 10, 1846 – March 4, 1849
President James K. Polk
Preceded by George Bancroft
Succeeded by William B. Preston
18th United States Attorney General
In office
March 5, 1845 – October 16, 1846
President James K. Polk
Preceded by John Nelson
Succeeded by Nathan Clifford
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
In office
March 3, 1841 – March 23, 1844
Appointed by Martin van Buren
Preceded by Peter Vivian Daniel
Succeeded by James Dandridge Halyburton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1831 – January 11, 1837
Preceded by James Trezvant
Succeeded by Francis E. Rives
Member of the Southampton, Surry and Sussex Counties
In office
Preceded by District established
Succeeded by Francis E. Rives
Member of the Virginia Senate from Isle of Wight, Prince George, Southampton, Surry, Sussex and Greensville Counties
In office
1826 – 1829
Preceded by Edmund Ruffin
Succeeded by District abolished
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Southampton County
In office
1823 – 1825
Alongside Henry Briggs, Carr Bowers
Personal details
Born (1799-04-18)April 18, 1799
Greensville County, Virginia
Died October 3, 1859(1859-10-03) (aged 60)
Paris France
Resting place Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia
Political party Democrat (after 1833)
Other political
Jacksonian (before 1833)
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Fort Mason
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tapping Reeve Law School
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Judge, Planter

John Young Mason (April 18, 1799 – October 3, 1859) was an American politician, diplomat, and United States federal judge.


  • Early life, education, and career 1
  • Political activities 2
    • Federal judicial service 2.1
    • Cabinet service 2.2
    • Electoral history 2.3
  • Later life 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Early life, education, and career

Born in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia, Mason attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a member of Philanthropic Assembly. Mason graduated in 1816, and then read law at Tapping Reeve Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut to be admitted to the Southampton County, Virginia, bar in 1819. He had a private law practice in Southampton County from 1821 to 1831.

He married Mary Ann Fort, the daughter of a prominent land-owner, in 1821 and became a planter himself, as well as continuing as a lawyer. He owned Fortsville located near Grizzard, Sussex County, Virginia.[1]

Political activities

He served in the U.S. Military Academy in 1836 on his recommendation. Mason later served as a delegate to the Virginia constitutional convention of 1850.

Federal judicial service

On February 26, 1841, Mason was nominated by President Martin Van Buren to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia vacated by the elevation of Peter Vivian Daniel to the Supreme Court of the United States. Mason was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 2, 1841, and received his commission the following day. He resigned from the bench on March 23, 1844, to take a cabinet post.

Cabinet service

Mason was the James K. Polk.

The period of Mason's service as Navy Secretary was marked by intense Congressional pressure for economy, requiring the decommissioning of the Navy's ships of the line and making it difficult to maintain a continuous naval presence on foreign stations. The construction of floating drydocks for several Navy Yards, the simplification of the Navy's ordnance system, an expansion of the Navy's scientific endeavors and the formalization of status of the naval engineers also marked Mason's first term as Secretary.

His second term was marked by efforts to sustain the Navy's combat forces in the Gulf of Mexico and along the far-distant Pacific coast, the beginning of construction of new steamers and an effort to obtain potential warships thorough the subsidization of civilian mail steamships. The latter was an early, and ultimately unsuccessful, experiment in public-private partnership.

Electoral history

  • 1831; Mason was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 57.88% of the vote, defeating Independent Richard Eppes.
  • 1833; Mason was re-elected unopposed.
  • 1835; Mason was re-elected with 72.13% of the vote, defeating Whig John Urquehart.

Later life

He was in private legal practice from 1849 to 1854 and served as President of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1851 and from 1853, until his death in Paris, France in 1859, the U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to France. In this capacity he attracted attention by wearing at the court of Napoleon III a simple diplomatic uniform (for this he was rebuked by U.S. Secretary of State William L. Marcy, who had ordered American ministers to wear a plain civilian costume), and by joining with James Buchanan and Pierre Soulé, ministers to Great Britain and Spain respectively, in drawing up (October 1854) the famous Ostend Manifesto.

In politics he was a typical Virginian of the old school, a states rights Democrat, upholding slavery and hating abolitionism.

After his death in Paris, his remains were conveyed to the United States and interred in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

USS Mason (DD-191) from 1920 to 1940, was named in honor of Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason.

John Y. Mason's Home historical marker


  1. ^ Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (March 1970). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Fortsville". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 

Further reading

  • Williams, Frances Leigh (1967). "The Heritage and Preparation of a Statesman, John Young Mason, 1799-1859". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 75 (3): 305–330.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Trezvant
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 2nd congressional district

1831 – 1837
Succeeded by
Francis E. Rives
Government offices
Preceded by
Thomas W. Gilmer
United States Secretary of the Navy
1844 – 1845
Succeeded by
George Bancroft
Preceded by
George Bancroft
United States Secretary of the Navy
1846 – 1849
Succeeded by
William B. Preston
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Nelson
U.S. Attorney General
Served under: James K. Polk

1845 – 1846
Succeeded by
Nathan Clifford
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William C. Rives
United States Minister to France
1853 – 1859
Succeeded by
Charles J. Faulkner
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.