Timeline of Liberty Documents

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1215
1215

Magna Carta

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta in 1215 established the following principles:

  • everyone is subject to the law, even the King,
  • individuals have rights,
  • everyone has the right to justice,
  • and everyone has the right to a fair trial.

The Magna Carta recognized individual responsibility in all, including the King, and it established that the law “should” be applied to everyone equally. Although King John got the pope to void the Magna Carta only 10 weeks after signing it, it was reissued several times over the next century and became a seminal legal document when Sir Edward Coke used it extensively in the 17th century. (Sir Edward Coke was a mentor to Roger Williams.)

More Info

1216
1216

The First Great Charter of King Henry III

The First Great Charter of King Henry III

Less than two years after the original Magna Carta, the core of the Magna Carta was reissued in “The First Great Charter of King Henry the Third”, granted November 12, 1216–the first year of his reign. This was the first time the Magna Carta was willingly signed by a King. And, King Henry III created the first parliament which was needed because of the need to hear counsel from the barons prior to acting–per the Magna Carta.

1644
1644

Patent for Providence Plantations, Roger Williams

Patent for Providence Plantations, Roger Williams

The first TRUE democracy in America. From the charter largely drafted by Roger Williams who was influenced by his mentor Sir Edward Coke who relied heavily on the Magna Carta in legal proceedings.

From Roger Williams’ 1643/4 charter:

…full Power and Authority to rule themselves…by such a Form of Civil Government, as by voluntary consent of all, or the greater Part of them…

Read the full charter here. The date is an English Double Date1 so Mar 14, 1643/4 is our modern Mar 14, 1644.

1644

Book: The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution

Book: The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution

In 1644, Williams published The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. Historians consider it his most famous work. He wrote Bloudy after arriving in London in midsummer 1643. It was on sale by July 15, 1644. It is a fierce attack on religious and political intolerance in both Old England and New. He advocated for free thought and belief because he felt that punishing those that did not believe was not part of his faith and government should be separate from religion. Roger advocated for a “hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world” in order to keep the church pure. His ideas raised questions and challenges but his ideas endured over time.

1663
1663

Founder, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

Founder, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

In July 1663, King Charles II granted a Royal Charter to the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations uniting Providence, Warwick, Newport and Portsmouth. It became the State of Rhode Island after the Revolutionary War. John Clarke, who stayed behind after Roger returned in 1654, worked hard and deserves much of the credit.

Footnotes:
1Before 1752 the first day of the year was 25 March. So, days of the year that fell from Jan 1 - Mar 25 were notated using the previous year, or double dating. So, both Jan 1, 1600 and the double date Jan 1, 1600/1 matches our Jan 1 in the year 1601. This applies to any English dates from 1752 back in time that fall from Jan 1 through Mar 25. You might see (O.S.) for old style, or (N.S.) for new style added. For double dates, just remember the later date matches our modern historical date. From 1752 back in time, if you see an English date from 1 Jan through 25 Mar, just remember that is toward the end of their year so the actual "year" is the next year unless marked (N.S.).  
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