WASHINGTON — A copy of the Magna Carta, the English royal manuscript setting out the rights of man, is to be displayed at the US National Archives in Washington from February 17, after a year of restoration work.
The Magna Carta enshrined the rule of law in England at a time of disagreements between King John and the English barons. It was first issued in 1215 and confirmed as English law in 1297.
The copy in Washington is one of four bearing the seal of King Edward I in 1297. Two others are in Britain and a fourth in Australia.
The parchment document, the only one in a permanent collection in the United States, was stripped of its previous repairs before being treated using new techniques. It will be kept in a new air-tight case designed to prevent damage.
The document, which was previously on loan to the National Archives in Washington, was put up for sale in December 2007.
Billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein bought the document — one of only 17 existing copies of the Magna Carta — for $21.3 million at auction in New York before giving it back to the Archives on loan.
Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity fund Carlyle Group, also donated $13.5 million for the manufacture of the new showcase, a multimedia kiosk explaining the importance of the document and a new exhibit gallery.
The individual liberties mentioned in the Magna Carta inspired the American founding fathers to pursue independence and to include similar provisions in the US Constitution.