What are some similarities and differences between the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major similarity between these two documents is that both reflect the idea that there should be limitations on the power of the government.  This is an important idea that is one of the major bases of our entire system of government today.   The major difference between the two is the degree of democracy that they contemplate.  The Magna Carta is really meant as a contract between the king and his nobles, giving the nobles guarantees against the king.  By contrast, the Declaration of Independence is a call for equality and rights for all people (or at least all white men).  This means the Declaration is far more democratic than the Magna Carta.

mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence are two very important documents. There are some similarities and some differences between these two documents.

One difference between these documents is the view of how people get their rights. With the Magna Carta, the King is asked to give more rights to a group of nobles that were upset with him. In the Declaration of Independence, the document states that there are some natural rights that all people have and can’t be taken away. The Magna Carta is based on the idea that a leader gives rights to the people while the Declaration of Independence states all people have certain rights, and they don’t need to ask anybody for them.

There are similarities between the documents. Both documents stated that people should have more rights. Additionally, both documents were created because of some sort of a rebellion against the King. The Magna Carta was established when a group of nobles rebelled against the King. The Declaration of Independence was created when the colonists rebelled against the King.

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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There are a number of similarities between the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence starting from their conception to their application. The two documents are popular in their countries of origin with the Magna Carta being popular in Britain and the Declaration being popular in the United States. The documents were both borne out of rebellion; the Magna Carta was first established after conflicts between the King and rebel barons and the Declaration was established after conflict between the thirteen American states and Great Britain. The two documents both sought to assert individual human freedoms and rights.

The two documents also have some differences especially in how they were constituted. Where the Declaration confirms that power rests with the people, the Magna Carta asserted that power rests with the sovereign until changes through the Six Statutes sought to limit these powers. In the Magna Carta the rights of the people are granted by the government while in the Declaration, people's rights are God given. The Declaration was based on universal principles regarding all human beings but the Magna Carta was based on a particular group of people (barons) but which was later changed to the more inclusive term any freeman.


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