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Evolution of Individual Rights

            Individual rights and liberties are ever changing, as humans evolve so do the things that we can and cannot do. Many events and people helped make the Bill of Rights what they are today. I will give a timeline of the rights and liberties, in England, Colonies, and the States of Confederation. .
             The settlers, who colonized British North America during the 1600s and 1700s, displacing Native Americans through war and disease, came from many nations. Most of the settlers shared an English heritage; so English cultural institutions predominated (Leyh Publishing, 2002). .
             The greatest influence on American law was the "common law- of England. Despite the existence of the royal courts known as the Kings bench these other courts and legal systems , English people in both England and America believed that they had a right to traditional common-law procedures and rules, such as the right to a trial before a neutral judge and jury; the guarantee that one's life, liberty, and property could only be taken through proper legal process: the right to know the charges levied against one; the rule that one was innocent until proven guilty and the right to be represented by counsel and to present witnesses. They believed that these rights were guaranteed by the Magna Carta, or Great Charter, to which King John had agreed in 1215 and which had been confirmed many times since (Leyh Publishing, 2002).
             Individual freedom can survive only under a system of law by which both the sovereign and the governed are bound. Such a system of fundamental laws, whether written or embodied in tradition, is known as a constitution. The idea of government limited by law received effective expression for the first time in the Magna Carta (1215), which checked the power of the English king. The Magna Carta did not stem from democratic or egalitarian beliefs; rather, it was a treaty between king and nobility that defined their relationship and laid the basis for the concept that the ruler was subject to the law rather than above it.

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