On this day in….
….1215 — King John of England signed the Magna Carta by applying his royal seal. Although the document was basically a peace treaty between King John and his barons, it provided guarantees for protecting feudal rights and privileges, upholding church freedom, and maintaining laws throughout England. The Magna Carta, or Great Charter, is now seen as a cornerstone in the development of democracy in England, which then led to democracy throughout Europe, the rest of the Old World, and the New World, which is why the United States issued a postage stamp on June 15, 1965, recognizing its role in United States history and government.
The Magna Carta implied there were laws that even the king was required to observe, thereby precluding future claims to absolutism by English monarchs. Arguably the most important statement was made by Clause 39 which provided that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised … except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” Now recognized as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus, it inspired England’s Petition of Right of 1628 and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679.
….1849 — James K. Polk, eleventh President of the United States, died in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 53 and just three months after leaving office. His birthplace is unknown but believed to have been in a log cabin in what is now Pineville, North Carolina. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and was both a lawyer and a planter.
Before becoming President of the United States, he served as Governor of Tennessee, Congressman from Tennessee and 17th Speaker of the House. His public service career stretched from 1825 to 1849.
During Polk’s presidency, he oversaw the opening of the United States Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institution, groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first United States postage stamps States.
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