Big Idea #1
• America got a lot of their ideas
about government from the
The Magna Carta
A document written in 1215 in England
The king needed money to finance a war,
so he made a deal with the nobles (rich
Gave rights to the English people
Took power away from the king
Rights guaranteed by the Magna
Property could not be seized by the
Taxes had to be approved by a council of
People could not be put on trial without
witnesses against them.
The right to a trial by a jury.
Parliament - elected representatives
that make laws in England
Parliament was made up of two houses.
(parts) – The House of Commons and
the House of Lords.
English Bill of Rights
Laws written to protect the English people
King or queen could not cancel laws or impose
taxes unless Parliament agreed
Excessive fines and cruel punishments were
People had the right to complain about the
king or queen without being arrested.
John Peter Zenger and
freedom of the press
John Peter Zenger was put on trial for
criticizing the governor of New York in a an
article in a newspaper.
Criticizing government officials in the press
was illegal at the time.
Zenger was found not guilty.
Zenger’s trial was the first step in freedom of
the press in America.