Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MASON, John Young, cabinet officer, born in Greensville county, Virginia, 1S April, 1799 ; died in Paris, France, 3 October, 1859. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1816, studied law at Litchfield, Connecticut, was admitted to the bar in 1819, and practised with great success in Southampton county, Virginia He was successively a member of the legislature of Virginia and of the State constitutional convention of 1829, a member of congress from 1831 till 1837, and chairman of the committee on foreign affairs and judge of the United States district court and of the circuit court of Virginia. In 1844 he was appointed secretary of the navy by President Tyler, and in 1845 President Polk made him attorney-general of the United States, but the next year he was again placed at the head of the navy department. In 1849 he removed to Richmond, Virginia, and resumed the practice of the law. He was president of the Virginia constitutional convention of 1850. In 1853 he was appointed United States minister to France, and he was reappointed by President Buchanan, remaining in that post until his death.
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