U.S. Archives to Showcase Magna Carta in New Gallery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Joseph Martin Kronheim
    On June 15, 1215, England's King John put his seal to Magna Carta ("the Great Charter") at Runnymede.

    The only original copy of the Magna Carta in the United States is the centerpiece of a new museum gallery at the National Archives, tracing the evolution of rights and freedoms through present day.

    On Wednesday, the archives will open its new "Records of Rights'' permanent exhibit in an expanded museum space on the National Mall. Philanthropist David Rubenstein donated $13.5 million to fund the project, along with funds from Congress. Rubenstein also is loaning the 1297 copy of Magna Carta to the archives.

    Magna Carta was the first English charter to directly challenge the monarchy's authority. It became a precedent for the concept of freedom under law as envisioned by America's founding fathers.

    The historic document will be surrounded with documents and images exploring the evolution of citizenship, equality and free speech.