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Magna Carta at 800: London Diaries

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 13, 2015

In 1957, 9,000 American lawyers contributed to building a monument to Magna Carta at Runnymede, England, where Magna Carta was sealed by King John in 1215. The American Bar Association (ABA) has returned in 1971, 1985 and 2000 to rededicate and  "spiff up" this memorial.  This year, the ABA organized a group of 750 to participate  in London Sessions of CLE, join in the 800th-anniversary celebration of Magna Carta, and rededicate the ABA memorial.  My wife, Nancy, and I were happy to join in this celebration and to share some of our experiences in the form of a diary with some photos. What we now call Magna Carta began as the Articles of the Barons, a kind of peace treaty between King John of England and a group of disgruntled English barons in 1215.  The barons had taken the Tower of London and controlled the city of London.  King John was holed up at Windsor Castle. The two sides met at Runnymede, in mid-June 1215.  Magna Carta was written in Latin and most of it dealt with issues of the day.  However, it established the principle that no one is above the law, not even the king, and clauses 39 and 40 contained the seeds of due process of law.  "No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers and/or by the law of the land.  To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice."  Those concepts developed over the centuries and Magna Carta is now considered a bedrock symbol of the rule of law


We landed at Heathrow Airport in mid-afternoon and took the London Underground (the tube) to our hotel in the Bloomsbury area. Eschewing the posh (and pricey!) headquarters hotels on Park Lane, we stayed at The Harlingford, a contemporary, compact, family owned hotel on a Georgian crescent across the street from Cartwright Gardens and near the University of London.  The gardens were named for John Cartwright, an attorney and the first English writer to openly support American independence.  read more... 

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