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How did the enlightenment effect colonial thought?

As discussed the spirit of democracy, though fledgling at best, was growing rapidly. Yesterday we discussed the level of democratic activity, today we discuss the roots of the ideological fervor.

I. The Roots of Democracy In America

A. Evolution of the Democratic Spirit

1. Adventurers - The colonists were rough hewn adventurers who had risked life and limb to build a civilization in the New World. They were the type who questioned the established system and stood up for themselves when they felt they were wronged.

2. Grassroots movement - Political movements in the colonies started on a grassroots level. That meant they stated with he common man, were spread by word of mouth and them grew and grew. Since they were grassroots movements they had the support of many people and were very powerful.

3. Enlightenment - The ideas of the enlightenment writers discussed below were read by the intellectual elite of the colonies and spread to all. They were heavily influenced buy these writers, particularly Locke.

4. Distance from authority - They were 3000 miles away and grew accustomed to making decisions for themselves.

B. How were the ideas expressed by the enlightenment put to use in the America?

1. John Locke - His writings became the basis for the Declaration of Independence

-He wrote about the natural rights of Life Liberty and Property. He also wrote that government was created by consent of the governed in order to protect these natural rights. If the government did not protect these rights he said that people had the right to rebel and dissolve the government. This was the philosophical justification of the American Revolution.

 2. Voltaire - His writings became the basis of the 1st Amendment and Freedom of Speech

- Voltaire once wrote: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend till death your right to say it." This famous quote was widely read and believed.

 3. Baron de Montesqueau - His writings became the framework of the much of the Constitution.

-He wrote about a Separation of powers and checks and balances that would divide government into three branches in order to prevent one branch of government from getting too powerful.

 4. Machiavelli (The Prince) and Hobbes (Leviathan) both endorsed a strong government and in part formed the basis of federalism.


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