ON-Lion Letter

In November, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., will open the exhibition "Magna Carta:  Muse and Mentor" to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and illustrate the great charter's influence on laws and liberties throughout the centuries.  The centerpiece of the 10-week exhibition will be the Magna Carta on loan from the Lincoln Cathedral in England, one of only four surviving copies issued in 1215.  Seventy-six other items will be drawn from the collections at the Library of Congress.

The exhibition also celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta's first visit to the Library of Congress.  In 1939, after a six-month public viewing of Magna Carta in the British Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, the document traveled to the Library of Congress for safekeeping during World War II.  The Library placed the Magna Carta on exhibit until the U.S. entry into the war, when it then sent the treasured document to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  The Magna Carta returned to England in 1946.

Only four issues of the Magna Carta from 1215 exist today.  Two are held by the British Library, one by Salisbury Cathedral, and another by Lincoln Cathedral, which considered to be in the best condition.

"Magna Carta:  Muse and Mentor" will feature medieval manuscripts, published works, prints, photographs, maps, posters, and annotated draft opinions by justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The exhibition will show how the interpretation of the Magna Carta through the centuries led to the constitutional guarantees of individual liberty brought forth by the Founding Fathers of the United States.  It will describe how a number of the most basic principles of the U.S. Constitution -- consent of the governed, the right to a trial by jury, the right to due process of law, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, and limited government under the law -- can be traced to the Magna Carta.  Also, liberties associated with Magna Carta are not just for the history books; many of those liberties are still being litigated in U.S. courts today.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports the exhibition.

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