The American Enlightenment

Topics: United States Declaration of Independence, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson Pages: 4 (1468 words) Published: November 29, 2012
The Start of Our Nation
“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Located in our United States Declaration of Independence, these are the words that were written by Thomas Jefferson. He is indeed the author of our declaration to gain independence against Great Britain. But what if these words did not come straight from Jefferson? Looking at the big picture, what if our whole constitution and government is based on ideas that were discovered, preached, and outlawed around that time? The Enlightenment Period (around the seventeenth and eighteenth century) changed the ideas of how we should create a stable and new type of government. The man that started this beloved period was named John Locke. The ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment Period caused a few philosophers and people who were outspoken about freedoms and rights to shape the American government. Locke was raised in Britain, and across the English Channel most of Europe was not following Great Britain. Most governments at that time were absolute monarchies, which means the King had complete control over all of the country. What made Britain was so different was after an England Civil War. This is when the King of England, King Charles, was in disagreement with the nobles about how much power he should have. The country broke out into a civil war and the nobles, led by Oliver Cromwell, won the war and beheaded Charles (Klekowski). Seeing all this, Locke’s love for democracy was created. Living in a newly created constitutional monarchy, On the side of the nobles, Locke spoke out for a type of government that did not have the King do everything (Philosophy Timeline). He wanted all the citizens to have rights, and uphold these rights, which was not the normal thing in the time era.

Locke’s ideas led him to write a book called Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this book, he shared with the public the Social Contract Theory. This is the theory that as citizens it is the...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Benjamin Franklin: the Enlightenment Figure Essay
  • The American Enlightenment Essay
  • Enlightenment and Romanticism in American Literature Essay
  • Essay on Enlightenment
  • The Enlightenment Writers Essay
  • The Great Awakening/Enlightenment Essay
  • Essay about Early American Writing
  • The Enlightenment Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free