Lincoln International Academy
Advanced Placement United States History
Mr. Roger Brady
September 12, 2012
This research paper was written for the Advanced Placement United States History class taught by Mr. Roger Brady. It focuses on the rise of the ideas of the Enlightenment and how these ideas were relevant in the American Revolution, and the creation of the modern American Society. It also provides a throughout explanation of what is the Enlightenment, who are its main exponents, and how the ideas of the Enlightenment spread. Lastly, it also depicts how the colonists were mistreated and mocked by the British Empire before the ideas of the Enlightenment hit America and cause the shift in the mindset of the Colonial leaders who would command the Revolutionary War for independence in 1776.
The Impact of the Enlightenment in the North American Colonies
The Enlightenment, or the age of reason, started out as a cultural movement of intellectuals in Europe during the eighteenth century. The main purpose of this movement was to achieve knowledge and understanding of life through the use of science rather than the use of tradition and religion. The ideas of the Enlightenment opposed greatly superstition, intolerance, and abuse by the church and state subsequently placed a heavy emphasis on science, logic, and reason in order to understand the natural and human world and how to make government and society more fair, free, equitable, and humane. The Enlightenment came after the Dark Ages, so it literally means to bring light to the thinking and analysis of most intellectuals. At the time, intellectuals and philosophers did not see the magnate and the relevance the ideas of the Enlightenment would bring to the North American Colonies which resided a sea away.
Always when new things come from England to America there is a huge commotion and changes in cultural aspects. In the 1960s it was the Beatles that drove all the ladies and the people of America crazy, but long before that, in the eighteenth century people went crazy for another British product; however, this product was not music, it was freedom. It is ironic to think that the freedom that all Americans desired came from the same empire which oppressed them, England. “Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Says Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and that’s what the colonists felt. Of course, they were happy to be part of the largest empire of the world; nonetheless there was a newly born sense of patriotism and love for America when the ideas of the Enlightenment invaded colonial America.
General Ideas of the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment primarily centralized on a shift of mind, for most people. Now people saw things in a different way and more and more people believed the ideas of Enlightenment which encompassed: Rationalism, which is the belief that knowledge can be obtained through reason; empiricism, greatly used by scientists from the time and still in the twenty first century, the belief that knowledge can be obtained from experience thus the use of the scientific method can lead to the drawing of irrefutable conclusions; secularism, the separation of religious and spiritual beliefs from civic affairs; the idea that all the concepts of the Enlightenment can be applied to anyone, whether rich, poor, black or white: universalism; equality, the idea that all people in society should have the same right whether they are black, white, male or female; the concept that places a larger focus on each individual and removes the barriers to achieve the highest amount of freedom for everyone, individualism; the power to exercise choice and make decisions without political, social or natural inference, freedom; the acknowledgement of other ideas and opinions regarding relevant matters without persecution and negativity, nonetheless it does not imply acceptance, toleration;...