Magna Carta - Its Role in the Making of the English Constitution 1300-1629
Magna Carta- ITS ROLE IN THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION 1300-1629 by FAITH THOMPSON. PREFACE: Magna Carta is well called the oldest of liberty, documents. It has come to serve as the prototype of all bills of rights, a symbol, a slogan that conies readily to the tongue of a public speaker. Its history, in these days when human progress seems to depend on the success of a world charter, may seem of mere antiquarian interest. Yet the New Yor Times of January n, 1946, saw fit to devote nearly a column to a description of the ceremony in which Dr. Luther H. Evans, Librarian of Congress, handed to his majes tys minister, John Balfour, one of the original parchment copies of the Great Charter for return to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral. Of the Charter, during its stay in the United States, Dr. Evans said Fifteen million Americans have made pilgrimage to see it American arms have been its guard. Mr. Balfour termed the Charter the forefather of the British and American bills of rights, the American Habeas Corpus Act, and the Declaration of Independence. The Federal Constitution of the United States, Mr. Balfour said, contained many of its provisions and even some of its actual words and this in turn has been the model for many constitutions in many lands. The line of descent extends to our time and we can, without flight of fancy, trace as an authentic offspring the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. Here is a lineage without equal in human history. For this we honor the Great Charter, and for this, not as Britons or as Americans, but as members of the whole brotherhood of free peoples, we give our thanks to the Librarians of Congress for the care with which during these momentous years, they have guarded a document that is beyond re placement and above price. Magna Carta is not the private property of the British people. It belongs equally to you and to all who at any time and in any land have fought for freedom under the law. la the words of Professor A. B. White Today we study its history, yes terday it was our political Bible. If it became something of a myth few would question that the myth has been beneficent and still is. It was through Professor White that my interest in Magna Carta history was first awakened while preparing under his direction at the University of Minnesota a doctoral dissertation, published as The First Century of Magna Carta These studies attempt to trace through three more centuries the varied uses and increasingly significant interpretations of the famous document. It is a pleasure to express to Professor White my gratitude for his continued in terest and stimulating suggestions, and for reading parts of the manuscript. The opportunity to use valuable sources available only in England was made possible by a Guggenheim Fellowship for the year 1938-39, For this I express hearty thanks to the foundation, as well as to the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota for a grant-in-aid for a research assistant. I am indebted to Mr. Pulling of the Harvard Law Library, and to Professor Bade and Miss Caroline Brede of the University of Minnesota Law Library, for permission and aid in using their remarkable collections of early printed law books. Acknowledgment is also due the Treasurer and Masters of the Bench of the Inner Temple for permission to use certain Inner Temple Library manuscripts...
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