The Magna Carta and America
History seems to be rewritten so that society will forget important details of where it came from, therefore, not being taught today holding the importance it should. In order to change the course of the path we are on, we must go back in time and study important events, places, people and documents.
First, let’s begin with the setting. It is the time of King John of England. King John had conflicts with his barons which began in the early 1200’s. The word baron, a common word, has many meanings. In the early medieval period baron could be used to refer to any free man, but by the 11th century it had come to refer to a member of the landholding class. The main conflicts were money and property. In those times, a person’s wealth was measured by their livestock, land and crops. However; there was a question of who enjoyed the benefits off all that property. These issues stemmed back to King John’s ancestor, William the Conqueror.
In 1204 there had been some battles between France and England. King John lost Normandy and his other French territories. The royal treasury had been depleted so King John needed to find ways to rebuild it. Putting it simply, King John found it appropriate to tax the people and put debt upon them in any way he saw fit. These barons, known as free men, began to rebel against the King’s actions. This began the many years of conflict.
In 1209 King John was excommunicated. In 1213, England was facing the threat of invasion by the French. King John agreed at this time to submit his kingdom to the authority of Pope Innocent III.
In 1214, King John and his allies were defeated by King Philip Agustus of France, ending the English Empire in France. Still disgusted with King John and his endless pressures on their lives to support his wars, the baron’s demanded change!
What does the Magna Carta have to do with America?
“Over the long term, however, Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for the evolution of parliamentary government and subsequent declarations of rights in Great Britain and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king’s powers, this document asserted the right of “due process” of law. By the end of the 13th century, it provided the basis for the idea of a “higher law,” one that could not be altered either by executive mandate or legislative acts. This concept, embraced by the leaders of the American Revolution, is embedded in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution and enforced by the Supreme Court.” (National Endowment for the Humanities)
It is just amazing to think that our founding fathers thought back to the Magna Carta to pull ideas and concepts from it to lay the foundations to some of our greatest documents. I truly believe that it is a part of American history! I encourage readers to view the Magna Carta and see the similarities between it and the Constitution! It will blow your mind and touch the heart of the patriot! In order for us to move forward, we must look back.