13
Jun
2005

The Forgotten Spirit of the Magna Carta

In 1215, disgruntled English barons unwittingly won a great victory for Western liberty. After King John waged several unsuccessful, senseless wars, the barons, sick of financing wars in which they had no interest, temporarily ended John's despotism by forcing him to sign the Magna Carta. Though the Great Charter mostly reflected selfish baronial interests, it set an important precedent that influenced British and American legal thought: it placed the central government under the rule of law. America's Founding Fathers made sure to incorporate the spirit of the Magna Carta into the Constitution, placing strict limits on the central government, particularly the executive branch.

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