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Press Release
March 3, 2008

Magna Carta Returns to Display at the National Archives

Museum Hours Extended Until 8 p.m. for "Magna Carta Days" March 12-26

Washington, DC…The only Magna Carta permanently in the United States will once again return to public display in the West Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives beginning Wednesday, March 12, 2008. The National Archives is located on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. Metro: Yellow/Green lines Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter stop.

In celebration of David M. Rubenstein’s generous loan of the 1297 Magna Carta, the National Archives will present a special tribute program on Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater in addition to "Magna Carta Days" -- March 12 through March 26 -- when the National Archives museum will be open until 8 p.m. The program will feature Professor A. E. Dick Howard, author of The Road from Runnymede: Magna Carta and Constitutionalism in America. Attendees of the evening's program will have a special opportunity to view the document following the program.

Background

In 1215 on the plains of Runnymede an assembly of barons confronted the despotic King John of England and demanded that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. King John agreed, binding himself and his heirs to grant "to all freemen of our kingdom" the rights and liberties described in the great charter, or Magna Carta.

Between 1215 and 1297, Magna Carta was reissued by each of King John’s successors. To meet his debts from foreign wars, King Edward I imposed new and harsher taxes in 1297. This provoked another confrontation between the king and the barons, resulting not only in the reissue of Magna Carta, but for the first time its entry into the official Statute Rolls of England. The 1297 document on display represents the transition of Magna Carta from a brokered agreement to the foundation of English law.

Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta remain. By the 17th century, the one shown here was in the possession of the Brudenell family, the earls of Cardigan. It was acquired by the Perot Foundation in 1984 and purchased by David M. Rubenstein in 2007. David Rubenstein has placed Magna Carta on loan to the National Archives as a gift to the American people.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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