Magna Carta Arrives In US For Exhibit


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One of the most important documents ever, in the history of democracy, has made its way to the United States to be a part of an exhibit that will open on Friday.

A copy of the Magna Carta, which dates back nearly 800 years, was flown across the Atlantic Ocean, from England's shores to its new temporary home at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences.

The document will remain with the exhibit for six months before it is flown back home for its 800 year anniversary.

The parchment was treated with the utmost care as it traveled over a thousand miles to its destination. Not only was it locked in a custom-designed aluminum and steel case equipped with monitors, it was also wrapped in specially made package and guarded by a canon chancellor.

Glyn Morgan, the chief executive of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust, also accompanied the document on the trip. "A very historic flight for us, and the cathedral and the document," said Morgan.

The Magna Carta was first issued on June 15, 1215, by England's King John, in Runnymeade. King John created the document in an attempt to prevent civil war. Three freedoms, that are still honored today, were included in the original document: taxes cannot be arbitrary, free men cannot be imprisoned without first being judged by their peers or the law, and that justice cannot be denied or delayed. This particular copy is dated to 1217, two years after the first version was distributed. Only once before has it left its home in the Hereford Chapel near the Welsh border.

"Your life and the country you live in and this thing that you call the Constitution is influenced by this document, so this is a living document," said Dirk Van Tuerenhout, the museum's curator of anthropology.

Image via Wikimedia Commons