Impact of Enlightenment and the Great Awakening on American Colonies

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Impact of Enlightenment and the Great Awakening on American Colonies

By | October 2011
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The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening had a great influence on American colonies. The Enlightenment emphasized the power of human reason to shape the world, to better educate men and women. The Great Awakening unified colonies, and also acceptance of religious tolerance. I believe that these two movements of the 18th century had a great impact on American culture and how people think before and after these movements. The Enlightenment changed people’s view on politics, religion, and human nature, and The Great Awakening accepted religious tolerance.

First of all, Enlightenment mainly influenced educated people in the American colonies. Even though Enlightenment first began in Europe, it spread to America. The German word for Enlightenment is “Aufklaerung”- it means to “clearing up”. It is a useful word because it helps explain what the Enlightenment really is, and what they tried to achieve. Also, the American Revolution was impacted greatly by the Enlightenment. The most famous Enlightenment thinkers in America were Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Because of Enlightenment, people started believing that agreement must exist between people and leader. People started thinking about improving their individual lot and to invent useful devices to help the society. Before the era of Enlightenment, people’s knowledge on politics was based on God, but after Enlightenment, Americans started believing that reasoning is important, and you cannot just accept things.

Second, the Great Awakening brought diversity; it was caused by renewal of religion after many people in the colonies turned away from religion. The Great Awakening brought Christianity to people who stopped believing in religion. It taught people that they were responsible for their own actions. The most famous theologian is Jonathan Edwards. He wrote a very famous sermon “Sinners in The Hands of An Angry God.” In his sermon, Jonathan Edwards, talks about hell, what will happen if you do not...