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Magna Carta on Display Beginning July 4 at the National Constitution Center Coincides with Display of Emancipation Proclamation and U.S. Constitution
May 30, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (May 30, 2007) – One of only four existing original copies of Magna Carta, one of the world’s greatest charters of freedom, will be on display for three weeks at the National Constitution Center.  From Wednesday, July 4  through Wednesday, July 25 the Center will host Magna Carta: Foundation of Freedom, presented by the National Education Association and sponsored by Verizon Communications.  On loan from the Lincoln Cathedral, Magna Carta will be on special display inside the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the PeopleMagna Carta: Foundation of Freedom will coincide with the Center’s summer display of the signed Emancipation Proclamation and the printing of the U.S. Constitution from the Pennsylvania Packet.  

“We are honored to display this extremely rare copy of Magna Carta this summer,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO Joseph M. Torsella.  “It is fitting that treasures from the Center’s collection, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution, will also be on display during this time.  These three documents represent touchstones of freedom that have had a significant impact on contemporary visions of liberty.”

“At the National Education Association, we believe that a quality public education is a basic right of every child—a right as fundamental as those that were spelled out in Magna Carta,” said NEA President Reg Weaver.  “We believe that our work to close academic achievement gaps and reduce the dropout rate is a natural outgrowth of the great principles that were set forth in these remarkable documents.  And we’re proud to play a part in bringing these historical treasures together to help America’s students understand our nation’s values and deepen their love of history.”

“Magna Carta set in writing the ideas that laid the groundwork for the founding of our democracy,” said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon Chairman and CEO. “Verizon is proud to partner with the NEA to bring this wonderful piece of history to the National Constitution Center, and is delighted that our communications technology is playing a key role in continuing to spread the message of these timeless ideals."

In addition to sponsoring the Magna Carta exhibit, the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, offers free lesson plans and educational resources on Magna Carta and other historical documents at is the Verizon Foundation’s comprehensive program and online portal to more than 50,000 standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources provided in partnership with many of the nation’s leading educational organizations.

Magna Carta, “The Great Charter of Liberty,” ignited the first embers of democracy in the 13th century.  Originally composed in Latin, the document dates back to 1215, during the English reign of King John.  Drafted by British nobles, Magna Carta established a separation of church and state and set forth restrictions on the power of the monarchy.  Magna Carta is universally accepted as a basis of modern constitutional law, having established the foundation of both English and American principles of freedom and due process of law.  

Lincoln Cathedral’s Magna Carta has a fascinating history. It could have been lost during the destruction of the English Civil War, but it lay undisturbed among the extensive Lincoln archives until the early 19th century.  In 1810, it served as the exemplar for the transcription published in the first volume of the Statutes of the Realm.  Despite concerns for its safety at a time when Hitler was advancing through Europe, the Lincoln Charter was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.  In September 1939, after Great Britain declared war on Germany, it remained in the United States – stored in Fort Knox with six of our country’s most sacred documents – for safe keeping until after World War II.  It was returned to Lincoln in 1947 and remained there until it was traveled extensively throughout the world between 1976 and 1990.  In 1992 Lincoln’s Magna Carta was displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition titled “Royalty” along with other British treasures to mark the 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession. Since then it has been on view in Lincoln Castle, the place where its contents were first read to the people of Lincolnshire in 1215.

In March 2007, Magna Carta began a new tour that will last through 2009, debuting at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach, before coming to the National Constitution Center.

The Center’s rare printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, will also be on display this summer.  The extraordinary document was originally on display in February and was then “rested” for several months before being returned to its place in the Center’s main exhibition.

The Center’s rare first public printing of the U.S. Constitution will also return to the exhibit this summer.  The Pennsylvania Packet Constitution, one of less than 20 surviving copies, was published on September 19, 1787, just two days after the Constitution was signed in Independence Hall. 

The Magna Carta exhibit is free with regular admission to the National Constitution Center of $12 for adults, $11 for seniors ages 65 and over, and $8 for children ages 4-12.  Active military personnel and children ages 3 and under are free.  Group rates are also available.  For ticket information, call 215.409.6700 or visit    

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving 60.7 million customers nationwide.  Verizon’s Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation’s most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit

The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.  Opened on July 4, 2003, the Constitution Center is a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues.  The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, “Freedom Rising”.  The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education.  Also, serving as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. 

Contact:    Ashley Berke
Public Relations Coordinator
Denise Venuti Free
Senior Director of Public Relations
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