Enlightenment Movement In The 18th Century

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Since the dawn of civilization, there have been many empires and nations in which power was held by a small set of individuals. Monarchs and emperors often claimed to rule by divine right or, in some cases, they simply claimed to be divine. These regimes would oppress the people and create extreme gaps in social status. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment movement ran directly counter to ideas of absolutism that many rulers practiced. Revolutions become very common in the late 18th century as people were very unhappy with their government. Also, secularism becomes an important facet of how new, democratic governments would be operated. One such example would be the emergence of the United States, which was heavily influenced by the Age of Reason. To be…show more content…
While Europe is considered the center of the Enlightenment, the best practical application of its ideas happened in the American Revolution. In the colonies, the people did not like being taxed since they did not have legislators in Britain. They also became upset with the idea of an absolute monarch. The Enlightenment idea of the sovereignty of the people becomes the fuel for the revolution. Moreover, after the fighting was finished, American free-thinkers were guided by principles of the European philosophes. In particular, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison used enlightenment rhetoric in the country’s founding documents. For example, in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their power from the consent of the governed”. This was clearly inspired by the European philosophe John Locke, who believed governments are only legitimate if they are beneficial to the people. It is possible the colonies may have revolted without the Enlightenment, but a very different United States would have
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