Enlightenment Influences on the Declaration of Independence

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John Locke believed that every man has natural rights that include the right to live and the right to property. He also said people should have freedom and that no man should be a slave. This could have influenced Declaration of Independence because it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This shows that they both thought people were equal and should have access to basic rights such as life. John Locke also said that government derived “from the consent of the people” and not by divine right. And therefore, if the people did not like what the government was doing, they had the right of rebellion. This is a great influence because this is why America wanted to write the Declaration of Independence in the first place. Another person that influenced the Declaration of Independence is Rousseau. He created the social contract which states that every man is born free. It also says that when a ruler fails to protect its people, the social contract is broken and the people are obliged to choose a new ruler. In the Declaration of Independence it says, “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.” According to this, America thought the ruler had broken the social contract. So as a result, they decided to write the Declaration of Independence. Voltaire also influenced the Declaration of Independence in the sense that he showed the people how corrupt the aristocrats and officials were. The Declaration of Independence reflects this idea throughout the whole document because the whole purpose of this document was to express how unfair and unjust the ruler was. Here is an example from the Declaration of Independence when they are referring to the King, “For imposing Taxes on us without our consent.” This is clearly demonstrating how corrupt the...
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