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Magna Carta: A Blueprint for Democracy

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Magna Carta: A Blueprint for Democracy

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0760
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Magna Carta originated as what was essentially a failed peace treaty between King John of England and his barons in 1215. Centuries later it transformed into a document held by the Founding Fathers as a foundational cornerstone of citizens’ rights in this country.

Thomas J. McSweeney, a law professor at William and Mary Law School, explores the document’s evolution beginning in the 13th century through its role in 17th- and 18th-century revolutions. Along the way, he surveys some of the major historic debates about Magna Carta: Should we think of it as a statement of high-minded principle or of baronial self-interest? When and how did political thinkers come to view it as fundamental law? Did it privilege private property over common rights?

Finally, McSweeney considers whether Magna Carta was a good model for the guarantee of rights in a republic.

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