ASSEMBLED in a spacious room of the Library of Congress were the Justices of the Supreme Court, several members of Congress, interested diplomats, inquisitive citizens. The setting was not ornate; neither was the ceremony. The Marquess of Lothian was simply to present one of the four existing copies of Magna Charta to the American Library. In a brief discourse preceding the presentation Lord Lothian explained that the document had been on view at the World's Fair and that His Majesty's Government had asked him to entrust it to the American Library "until travel is safer." "The principles which underlay Magna Charta are the ultimate foundation of your liberties no less than ours," LordLothian recalled, "it was in their name that your ancestors threw the tea into Boston Harbor and rejected the claim of King George III to tax the colonies for defense." Librarian Archibald MacLeish's remarks in acceptance were similarly generous. Observing that "history has many circuitous passages," he expressed confidence that Thomas Jefferson would have enjoyed the presentation. "The action," said Mr. MacLeish, "is full of meaning for our time."
It was. The time was November 28, 1939, three months after the start of a struggle which, the British Government naturally hoped, America would embrace as her own.
ENGLAND did not expect any American to do his duty involuntarily. This was the reassurance conveyed to the United States, in one way or another, by almost