The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment

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The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment

Sabrina Stroud

History 201
Professor Lewis
March 5, 2013

The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment were both extremely influential times in American history, but they affected people in different ways. The Great Awakening focused more on spiritual changes that revolved around faith, whereas the Enlightenment emphasized on intellectual change and human reason. In my opinion, the Enlightenment was more influential on Americans and the new republic. The Enlightenment led to the American Revolution and indirectly molded the foundations of America.

The Enlightenment comprised many different paths, varying in time and geography, to the common goals of progress, of tolerance, and the removal of abuses in Church and state. It was a value system rather than a set of shared beliefs. The Enlightenment began in England and although the colonists came to America to escape England and its government’s reign, they were still very much influenced by the changes that were taking place. “In the early seventeenth century Enlightenment ideas were largely borrowed from Europe from such great thinkers as Francis Bacon and John Locke of England, Baruch Spinoza of Amsterdam, and René Descartes of France. Later, however, such Americans as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison made their own important contributions to the Enlightenment thought.” [1] The Enlightenment is a direct cause of the changes that took place in early America, changes in traditional religious and political sources of authority and the introduction to science, human rights, and democracy. A simple thought of an individual creating his or her own destiny led to the ambition of freedom which led to the American Revolution.

Following the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and others appointed in a committee, began working on a...
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