Essay on the Enlightenment

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Enlightenment Essay
The Enlightenment may have happened a long time ago, ideas of the thinkers of that era have shaped and influenced ideas of today. Thinkers like Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke may have directly influenced the government of the United States. Montesquieu argued that the best government would be one whose power was balanced between three groups of officials. He thought England - which divided power between the king (who enforced laws), Parliament (which made laws), and the judges of the English courts (who interpreted laws) - was a good model of this. “Separation of powers” was what Montesquieu called this idea of dividing government power into three branches. He thought it most important to create separate branches of government with equal but different powers. Because this, the government would never place too much power with one individual or group of individuals. He wrote, "When the [law making] and [law enforcement] powers are united in the same person... there can be no liberty." Montesquieu said each branch of government could limit the power of the other two branches. Therefore, no branch of the government could threaten the freedom of the people. His ideas about separation of powers became the basis for the United States Constitution. Voltaire was a French essayist, novelist, poet, and political reformer, just to name a few things. He advocated Religious and social tolerance, which are two things our own government believes in. Voltaire was a proponent of personal liberty and freedom of speech, he said the famous statement "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Freedom of speech is the first amendment in our constitution, and the fourth amendment is the right to personal liberty. One of his more controversial beliefs was the separation of church and state, which we belief in today. This belief was one of the beliefs that landed Voltaire in prison, and ultimately...
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