Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder December 28, 2009

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Fraunces Tavern: Magna Carta and the Foundations of Freedom

Hosts visit Fraunces Tavern Museum in lower Manhattan, where the Magna Carta document was on display from September 15 to December 15.  It’s been nearly 800 years since it was originally drafted, and this copy has traveled from Lincoln Cathedral in England to New York City very few times. The first was for the 1939 World’s Fair.

Fraunces Tavern was built in 1719, it was a residence and then bought by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces. It’s also known as the site where George Washington gave his farewell address to the officers of the Continental Army in 1783. When New York City was the nation’s capital, the tavern was rented to house offices of the Department of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

Jennifer Patton/Tony Wellman:

  • The tavern was originally built as a house by the Delancey family in 1719.
  • There’s been a lot of changes to the buildings, restorations throughout the centuries, and it does make it the oldest surviving building in Manhattan. Light would fade the document, the lighting is no more than 50 lumens.
  • This 1215 document was one of four reproduced. Hand copied in Latin, the language of education and communication of those days. This was the only way to spread news, there was no paper, this is on sheepskin.
  • Taxation issues, women’s issues, trial by ones peers issues. Written in very tiny tiny script by a Monk.
  • At the bottom you’ll see 3 holes for a ribbon where the King’s seal was attached.
  • The idea started with a select few, and you can’t hold that back. The Magna Carta was lost for 600 years.
  • Article 39 of the Magna Carta
  • In the Razul v Bush case, they actually cited the Magna Carta. They said when King John at Runnymede in 1215 was forced to sign the Magna Carta
  • We have since that time been against executive detention. I have a feeling that when King John affixed his seal on this document he had no intention of it existing for very long.
  • Other charters, Providence plantations and Virginia charter, rights to property and not have it taken away for various reasons.
  • Flushing Remonstrance. When New York was New Amsterdam, established by the Dutch in 1624. When Peter Stuyvesant came in 1657 all of New Amsterdam was is in disarray, lawlessness. Stuyvesant established hospitals, schools and also made it by law that you had to go to the Dutch church.
  • These are ideas that came out of the Magna Carta, traveled to these shores and became deep within our own laws here.  This is truly a revolutionary museum, the only museum dedicated to the American Revolution.
  • Bill of Rights: Five of the amendments on the Bill of Rights come from the ideas of the Magna Carta.
  • Estover – Charter of the Forest / The Royal Forest / Land that is claimed by the King.
  • You can’t do anything on the land without the King’s approval. You can’t kill game, or fish. The Magna Carta was originally called the Charter of Liberties. Articles 48 and 47 of the Charter of the Forest.
  • Charter of the Commons – Creative Commons.  Magna Carta is being revived.

Guest – Educational Director of Fraunces Tavern Museum Jennifer Patton, and Communications Director, Tony Wellman. Fraunces Tavern was built in 1719, it was a residence and then bought by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces. It’s also known as the site where George Washington gave his farewell address to the officers of the Continental Army in 1783. When New York City was the nation’s capital, the tavern was rented to house offices of the Department of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

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Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

In January of 2008, hosts interviewed author Peter Linebaugh on his book the Magna Carta Manifesto. It’s a sweeping history of the Magna Carta as a longstanding retraint against tyranny, the support of trial by jury and due process of law, the prohibition of torture and the rights of habaes corpus. Peter Linebaugh worked to construct the original history of the Great Charter and it’s little known companion, the Charter of the Forest, which was created to protect the rights of the poor.

Peter Linebaugh:

  • On November 11, 1217, after the 1215 document was lost and civil war had resumed, the Magna Carta was founded again and a smaller version was produced called the Charter of the Forest.
  • Charter of the Forest: Forms of protection of subsistence rights for people to the woodlands. The woods was the form that hydrocarbon energy took.
  • There’s a parallel with the protection of woodlands for all, back then, and our own oil economy. Common Rights for oil, share in the wealth of commons.
  • Origins of rights.  Magna Carta and Charter of Forest dividing civil and economic rights. Similar to UN documents now.
  • W.E.B. DuBois attacked the separation of rights of the “stomach” from rights of speech, or from civil and political rights and economic rights.
  • DuBois argued with Eleanor Roosevelt at Breton Woods on behalf of millions of people in the third world.
  • Gerrard Winstanley – “The Earth Belonged To No One” It is a common treasury for all. John Locke was afraid of them and developed his notions of private property in contrast to them.
  • The lessons for us today, depends on creativity and widespread discussion that must occur at the grassroots.
  • Historically, the ruling class has been able to retain it’s avaricious powers only to the extent that it keeps us apart. We’re familiar with gender and racial divisions, and we’ve become a Carceral continent.
  • When we get together we learn that so much of our history has been stolen from us. Our land, wealth, we must recover the knowledge of our own Commoning.

Guest- Peter Linebaugh, Professor, a student of E.P. Thompson, received his Ph.D. in British history from the University of Warwick in 1975. A graduate of Swarthmore and of Columbia, he taught at Rochester, New York University, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Harvard and Tufts before joining The University of Toledo in 1994. Grants from the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen and from the Fulbright and Mellon fellowship programs have supported his research. Peter Linebaugh is currently at work on a study of an Irish insurrectionary during ‘the great transformation’ of the Atlantic revolutions.

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