April 6 2019
THE CHANCELLOR'S REMARKS
PRESENTED AT THE DC ANNUAL DINNER
NATIONAL SOCIETY MAGNA CHARTA DAMES AND BARONS
BY LEWIS L. NEILSON, JR., CHANCELLOR
April 6, 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen of the National Society of Magna Charta Dames and Barons and guests. I am delighted and honored to attend this meeting as the Chancellor of the Society. This is my thirtieth year as Chancellor and the 30 Annual Dinner in DC.
I would like to bring greetings on behalf of the National Society. I join with the other Officers and Council of our Society in wishing you well as you work with us for our Society.
I would especially like to thank you for attending our dinner and participating in our Mission.
We have successfully concluded the 800th Anniversary.
The 800th Anniversary, with motivation from Sir Robert Worcester, resulted in the effective use of a one million-pound UK Government grant, noted for leverage by the recipient organizations. Our Society identified a ten year continuation of a lecture series at Royal Holloway University and the suggested 5 thousand pound grant was promptly matched by Runnymede. The significance of the ten-year series is that 2025 is the 800th Anniversary of the 1225 Magna Charta. I understand that there is UK public funding currently deployed to enhance the Runnymede Story for 2025. The following year, 2026, is the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and I am hopeful that an original Magna Carta can travel to Philadelphia to symbolize the inherent rights then embedded in America. An institutional owner in the UK is pleased to share for this purpose and a distinguished US organization is delighted at the prospect of being the institutional host for the document.
Our Society Mission is currently centered about the presentation of educational information on our website including text and video, where available, of talks and presentations. Naturally, we work hard to encourage and then record presentations, in the US and UK, which will hopefully resonate with a global audience. We also host events, including our Washington DC Annual Dinner, providing a platform for outstanding speakers. This year, Oliver St. Clair Franklin OBE will share a vision of the relationship between the US and the UK.
I am delighted that the Magna Carta has been recognized in recent Supreme Court Decisions and would like more scholarly research to reinforce individual rights in our evolving world, to strengthen the reasoning between the visions within Magna Charta and modern application. That research, possibly using our website, could modify unfortunate trends toward short term gratification compared with lasting values.
If King John had prevailed in the Barons Wars we might all be speaking French. William Marshall rallied the Barons to support young King Henry III, possibly appealing to a part of their nature which had resulted in the 1215 magna Charta. I am intrigued that successful men, some listed on the wall at Middle Temple, risked their lives and fortunes to sign the Declaration which could result in their ruin. Approximately 12 million Americans risked their lives, overseas, in World War II.
When the fame of freedom is threatened it becomes a torch and can serve as a beacon. I believe there is a common thread which needs better expression.
For many of our members, the 2015 Magna Charta Dames and Barons Tour was exceptional and empowering experience. Our Society is looking forward to an Educational Tour in 2025, which is the 800th Anniversary of the 1225 Magna Charta, issued by King Henry III. We are also looking forward to planning a Runnymede Conference in 2020 to discuss the continuing interpretation of the Runnymede Story. In 2026 we are hopeful that an original Magna Charta can travel from England to Philadelphia to emphasize the importance of Magna Charta to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration is celebrated in Philadelphia.
Our Mission, developing awareness of Magna Charta, continues to be relevant. The support of our 17,000 members and partners has enabled our Society to maintain and enhance this mission. Please view the educational material on our website – our supporters have helped provide that information as an educational resource.
From our Dinner’s Web Page, you can navigate to updated video and text from past Dinner speakers and links to many lunch and dinner programs from 1929 to 2018, a substantial educational resource and legacy. Most recent is the presentation on April 14, 2018 by the Honorable Brock D. Bierman at the National Press Club - Presentation “Magna Charta as it Transforms Democracy through USAID.” The next step will be adding programs which have been presented to our Divisions Chapters and Colonies. A continuing significant initiative is upgrading the quality of our video presentation of past lectures, presentations, meeting and conferences.
We strive to undertake additional programs; as well as collecting and presenting more information, especially from those who have been exhibiting and interpreting the Magna Charta in recent years, both in the United States and England. We wish to expand and develop our educational programs. We look forward to the continuation of a lecture series at Royal Holloway University to 2025 and the Celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. This is an exciting time to remember the foundations of our country and the opportunities for enhanced awareness for the future.
While it is nostalgic to reflect on the past and inspirational to remember the commitment of our friends to our shared cause we can provide the greatest tribute by vigorously continuing the mission which they also believed in. After all our Society is continuing to memorialize the actions of our Baron ancestors almost 800 years ago.