The Enlightenment And Its Influence On The American Revolution

By the late 18th century, the Enlightenment or Age of Reason, as it was simply called, had started to spread rapidly throughout Europe. People began to believe in popular government principles, the central economic value of politics, progress, and secularism. Intellectuals and thinkers of the commonwealth such as John Locke and Isaac Newton, influential writers and famous scientists respectively had inspired this cultural movement, both of which underline the fact that people can solve every issue by reasoning – be it issues with government, morality or society. These ideas, however, were not only limited to the countries of Europe where they had initially begun. The Enlightenment was at the heart of several of the American Revolution theories. American Revolution is the age when the United States wanted to be free from Britain. Most philosophers have inspired them very much.

The ideas of Enlightenment became the main factors that made American colonies independent. Enlightenment principles, which include equality, religious tolerance, freedom of speech and press, impacted a number of the American Revolution founders. The American colonists had no such privileges, which culminated in a revolt for freedom against Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence about the American’s natural right to “existence, freedom, and happiness”. The rights arose from the Enlightenment, ideas which soon after (Fisk) led to the Revolutionary war. “American Revolution should be regarded not only as a war of conquest from imperialism but also as an independence war. The Revolution was an action for further property acquisition”(Morris, 3).

The revolution arose after the British government set up unjustified taxes on the settlers. They needed this additional income to support their wars outside the country. The settlers had paid taxes at this time, which could support local initiatives and, more noticeably, the Sugar Act and Stamp Tax were regarded as unnecessary. Utilizing the ideals of freedom and Enlightenment, the settlers stood their ground and protested against the unjustified taxes. Americans wanted their government, one based on the principles of Enlightenment and this brought revolution.

Montesquieu believed it was all composed of laws or guidelines that had not been modified. He published a book titled ‘The Spirit of Laws’ that deals extensively with the significance of power separation, which balances government control. In England’s three divisions, executive, legislative and judicial, this division of powers was exemplary. England ensured that everyone had no unlimited power with these three branches separated. This ensured that the country’s citizens could voice their thoughts concerning government actions, and this gave them far more freedom and control. Montesquieu’s book has been translated into English, and American Colonists have been able to understand and incorporate the ideals of Enlightenment, like power balance that provides more liberty. American natives wanted freedom and claimed England shouldn’t control them in other countries (Fisk).

In the period of the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was among the most relevant thinkers. In 1762, Jean-Jacques ‘Social Contract’ was published, making it one of the essential pieces of conceptual, political thinking. The book deals with the way a government should function to protect society and citizens. In his book, Jean-Jacques cited “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” The philosopher affected America tremendously. These concepts were crucial to the American Revolution.

John Locke is among the world’s most significant and influential philosophers. He spent much of his life studying theology and political thinking. The founders of the American Revolution heavily used the principles.

The strength of any government stems from individuals who commit to abiding by their laws in return for legal rights and security: John Locke stated. Individuals are naturally entitled to possess the property, and they cannot be relieved of them without their consent. If a leader violates the contractual provisions which empower him or takes possession without permission, people can protest and unseat him (John Locke).

Such claims were things American citizens desired but couldn’t get due to being under England’s control. American colonies, therefore, sought liberation from England.

Thomas Hobbes’ political thinking is revered. His perspective of life is incredibly unique. His primary concern is how men should coexist for prosperity and not dream about war. He opposes freedom of determinism because freedom is thought of as the capability of doing whatever an individual wants (Oregon State). He believes that individuals follow a person or group in power, not a condition of nature. People in a situation of the environment, a society without civil government,” Oregon added. A social contract is a way out of this precarious state, which involves keeping the State in order and peace. American citizens finally turned to the work of Hobbes to validate the passage of the US Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence shortly after America managed to win the battle against Great Britain. The Declaration proclaimed that America won the revolt against Britain and achieved her liberty. They were now free to establish a country of theirs. This only indicates that the ideals of Enlightenment had an enormous impact on America. The ideals of Enlightenment were the core forces that gave Americans their own country. The thoughts and ideas on the life of Locke, Hobbes, and Montesquieu (philosophers) had a significant impact. Montesquieu had a substantial effect on power separation, Locke had a considerable influence on natural rights, and Hobbes had largely inspired individuals to respect the authority, while Rousseau had impacted the social contract. America referred to every philosopher and, ultimately, the ideas of Enlightenment were the principal influences on America gaining freedom.

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