Friday, October 31, 2014

Celebrating The Birth Of Democracy - Magna Carta Anniversary

By Young Lindsay

The most important document in the history of modern democracy was written and sealed eight hundred years ago. This year, with Magna Carta anniversary approaching, it's time to celebrate the birth of democracy. Designed to protect the rights of elite classes, by 40 rebellious barons in England, a charter of liberties became so much more. It became the foundation of democracy known today.

Although it was designed to protect rights and properties of English aristocracy, there are two really important principles expressed in this document that shaped the entire history. The first one says that no man cannot be prosecuted or deprived of the rights and freedoms, or harmed in any other way, by anyone's will, except by the law. This principle is now contained in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

The second essential principle contained in a charter of liberties is equally resonant. 'To no one will We sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.' Rights guaranteed in this document are embedded into the laws and served as an inspiration, but also as justification to the colonists during the American Revolution. The Constitution was based upon these guaranteed rights to all men.

When it comes to democracy, this is probably the most valuable document ever written. This was the first written constitution, and it was the first time that it was evident that even the king cannot be above the law, in this case the Common Law. These two famous clauses, 39 and 40, are the most important contribution of Great Britain. That is why this anniversary is actually celebrating the birth of democracy.

Sealing the Great Chapter, King John placed himself within a rule of law, but also all future sovereigns of England. The document itself was used as a base for designing the English Common Law. A charter of liberties made it possible for the United States to require their freedom and independence from the English crown.

A charter of liberties is really a symbol of freedom under law. The interesting thing is that it was called the Articles of the Barons at first, and as such sealed on June 15, 1215. The formal version named Magna Carta was issued by the Barons and the King four days after that, on June 19. The King has sealed it only to prevent the war. The Barons were mainly concerned about their rights. The war still broke out, but the importance of this document still echoes.

The original version of this document was written in Latin. Although there were 63 clauses, two of them are especially important. Clause 39 and clause 40 contain the basic human rights and freedoms under the law. These basic principles are contained in future legal systems in both Great Britain and America, and essential for the development of democracy known today.

The legacy of Magna Carta is clearly visible in the Bill of Rights. It shaped the entire Constitution, especially the Fifth Amendment, which clearly echoes this famous Clause 39. Written eight hundred years ago, this small, but enormously important charter of liberties is probably the most important document for the democracy in general.

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