The Impact of The Magna Carta Magna Carta gave intellectual underpinning to the
American Revolution. Americans claimed the right
The proper name for the Magna Carta is the Magna to trial by jury and no taxation without
Carta Libertatum, the Great Charter of Freedoms. representation because Magna Carta gave them
The document is usually abbreviated as the Magna those rights. The Stamp Acts and other legislation
Carta, or Great Charter. It could be considered a bill had shifted jurisdiction for many offenses to the
of rights for medieval England, although it was not Admiralty courts, where there is no jury trial,
heavily enforced for several centuries. More correctly foreseeing that local juries would be
importantly, it set a precedent which changed the loathe to convict their neighbors and enforce
face of England forever, by establishing that the "foreign" taxes on our soil. The colonists in 1776
King was not above the law. were more English than the English in protecting
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-magna-carta.htm these rights.
What it did in general: After the American Revolution was won, Magna
Carta's protections were built into the new
• The Magna Carta guaranteed the freedom of constitutions written by the states, often in its very
the English Church. words some of these protections were
• The King would not to be able to over tax incorporated into the Constitution forged in
the population. Philadelphia in 1797, but the lack of mention of
• King John must be less harsh on the barons. many of them almost torpedoed the Constitution’s
• Gave England the basis of a legal system. ratification. The Bill of Rights proposed in 1799
• The king had to have laws that are good and and adopted in 1791 fulfilled promises of the
fair. Constitution's backers that the rights Americans
• No Freeman would be punished without had fought and died for would be preserved.
going through a proper trial
Magna Carta seems to grow more important with
each passing year. Up to the time of our Civil War,
the U.S. Supreme Court found fewer than a dozen
The Magna Carta marked a turning point in world cases requiring analysis of Magna Carta. Between
history. Until the 13th century in England, 1870 and 1900, over thirty cases, mostly
European rulers were absolute monarchs. With interpretations of the newly extended rights under
absolute rule came absolute power; these rulers the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, involved
had the power to do and order anything they discussions of Magna Carta But since 1940, over
chose. The end of absolute power in Britain came sixty cases have produced comments and
with the revolutionary Magna Carta, which commentary on Magna Carta's role in American
established a set of laws that not even the king law.
could violate. The same laws that applied to the http://www.magnacharta.com/articles/article04.htm
lowest class of society applied to everyone, even to
the royal family. The Magna Carta was a major first
step toward the democracies of today,
governments in which there are no monarchs but
rather self governing citizens.
Answer the following questions in complete
1.Describe English government before the Magna
4. Describe the process by which all the guarantees
of the Magna Carta were guaranteed to Americans.
2. Describe the changes that develop in English
government after the Magna Carta.
5. Describe how the American legal system has
been more and more affected by the Magna Carta
over the years.
3. In what ways was American independence
influenced by the Magna Carta.