James M. Mason
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States (Confederate States, 1861-65)
Date of Birth: 1798
Date of Death: 1871
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Episcopalianism
Occupation: Politician, Lawyer, Diplomat
Parents: John Mason, Anna Maria Murray
Spouse: Eliza Margaretta Chew
Children: Eight
Relatives: George Mason (grandfather)
Samuel Cooper (brother-in-law)
Sydney Lee (brother-in-law)
Fitzhugh Lee (nephew)
Political Party: Democratic Party
Political Office(s): United States Representative from Virginia,
United States Senator from Virginia
Fictional Appearances:
The Guns of the South
POD: January 17, 1864
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
Nationality: Confederate States

James Murray Mason (November 3, 1798 – April 28, 1871) was a United States Representative and United States Senator from Virginia. He was a grandson of George Mason (a Founding Father) and represented the Confederate States of America as appointed commissioner of the Confederacy to the United Kingdom and France between 1861 and 1865 during the American Civil War.

While traveling to Europe on the British mail steamer RMS Trent, the ship was stopped by USS San Jacinto on November 8, 1861. Mason and John Slidell were confined in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, precipitating the Trent Affair that threatened to bring Britain into open war with the United States.

After some careful diplomatic exchanges, they USA admitted that the capture had been conducted contrary to maritime law, and that private citizens could not be classified as ‘enemy despatches’. Slidell and Mason were released, and war was averted. The two diplomats set sail for England again on January 1, 1862. Mason represented the Confederacy there for until April 1865. One of his first acts in London was to raise the issue of Union blockades. Ultimately, no nation ever granted recognition to the Confederacy.

Mason lived in exile in Canada from 1865 until 1868, when he returned to the USA.

James Murray Mason in The Guns of the South[]

James M. Mason traveled, with much difficulty, as an envoy to London during the Second American Revolution, but was unable to obtain British recognition for the Confederate States until the CSA had secured a decisive victory in 1864. British Foreign Secretary Lord Russell told Mason that recognition might have come in 1862, but for the issue of slavery.[1] Robert E. Lee was convinced that the support of slavery was what made the Confederacy an international pariah, and determined that the institution could not be allowed to endure much longer.


  1. The Guns of the South, p. 252-253.