The Magna Carta Comes to America

November 7, 2014

The Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, 1215. Courtesy of Lincoln Cathedral "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor," a new exhibition at the Library of Congress (LC) in Washington, D.C., celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the influential document that limited the powers of Britain’s King John, upheld individual rights, and later came to serve as the cornerstone of constitutional law.

Coke, Edward, Sir (1552-1634). The second part of the institutes of the laws of England: containing the exposition of many ancient, and other statutes, whereof you may see the particulars in a table following. London, 1681. Jefferson Collection, Library of Congress.On loan from the Lincoln Cathedral in England, the hand-written Lincoln King John Magna Carta, sealed in 1215, serves as the exhibition centerpiece. The document's first visit to LC was 75 years ago. Rare materials from the Law Library of Congress and other LC divisions are also on display to tell the story of the Magna Carta’s influence, from medieval times to the present. Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, cut the ribbon to open the display on November 2.

Robin Hood Defies King John in Frederick Warde’s Superb Production of Runnymede by Wm. Greer Harrison. Cincinnati and New York: Strobridge Lith. Co., ca. 1895. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress"Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor" runs through January 19, 2015. For more details visit LC, online.


Magna charta cum statutis angliae. England, fourteenth century. Law Library, Library of Congress



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