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Enlightenment & Revolutions

  • Thesis Statement

    Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau influenced the American people in the Revolutionary War and created the basis for many of the ideas in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
  • Locke

    “Rejecting the divine right of kings, Locke said that societies form governments by mutual … agreement. Thus, when a king loses the consent of the governed, a society may remove him—an approach quoted almost verbatim in Thomas Jefferson's 1776 Declaration of Independence” (HISTORY).
  • Locke 2

    Locke 2
    Locke’s philosophies state that if the people aren’t happy with the king, they can remove him. The American Revolution began with this exact motive. They didn’t remove the king, but they removed themselves from the king.
  • Locke 3

    Locke 3
    “Locke also developed a definition of property as the product of a person’s labor that would be foundational for both Adam Smith’s capitalism and Karl Marx’s socialism. Locke famously wrote that man has three natural rights: life, liberty and property” (HISTORY).
  • Locke 4

    Locke 4
    He also wrote that the purpose of the government is to protect those rights. Important figures in the Revolution used these ideas and stated them in the Declaration of Independence almost word for word. “Life, liberty, and property” became “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Voltaire

    “Although he made powerful enemies, Voltaire never stopped fighting for tolerance, reason, freedom of religious belief, and freedom of speech” (Beck, Chap.22). Voltaire believed in tolerance, reason, religious freedom, and freedom of speech. Religious freedom and freedom of speech are both part of the first ten laws in the US Constitution.
  • Montesquieu

    “Montesquieu concluded that the best form of government was one in which the legislative, executive, and judicial powers were separate and kept each other in check to prevent any branch from becoming too powerful. … While Montesquieu’s separation of powers theory did not accurately describe the government of England, Americans later adopted it as the foundation of the U.S. Constitution” (CRF).
  • Montesquieu 2

    Montesquieu 2
    After the Revolution, the Americans did not want their government to end up with another king, so they took inspiration from Montesquieu’s philosophies. They created their government with his separation of powers, which is why we have the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
  • Rousseau

    “Like Locke, Rousseau argued that legitimate government came from the consent of the governed. However, Rousseau believed in a much broader democracy than Locke had stood for. He argued that all people were equal and that titles of nobility should be abolished” (Beck, Chap.22). The American people created a government with no titles of nobility. Instead, they elect people to represent parts of the country in the government.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    “Attempts by the British government to raise revenue by taxing the colonies (notably the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773) met with heated protest among many colonists, who resented their lack of representation in Parliament and demanded the same rights as other British subjects” (HISTORY).
  • Stamp Act 2

    Stamp Act 2
    Colonists were being overly taxed without being represented in the British government. All of the Acts to tax more money from the colonists caused the king to lose the consent of the governed--the American people. This is an example of Locke’s governmental theories.
  • No Taxation Without Representation

    No Taxation Without Representation
    “‘No taxation without representation’ became an iconic slogan, as it effectively summarised the colonial outrage at the fact they were being taxed against their will and with no form of representation in Parliament” (Tomes). This slogan was letting the king and the British government know that they had ended their consensual agreement with the king. They then created their own democratic government based on the writings of several enlightenment thinkers.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    “Colonial resistance led to violence in 1770, when British soldiers opened fire on a mob of colonists, killing five men in what was known as the Boston Massacre” (HISTORY). The Boston Massacre was the result of rising tensions between colonists and a group of British soldiers. The first person killed, Crispus Attucks, became known as the first American martyr.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    “That night, a large group of men – many reportedly members of the Sons of Liberty – disguised themselves in Native American garb, boarded the docked ships and threw 342 chests of tea into the water” (HISTORY). To protest, the colonists dumped 342 chests of tea in the ocean, which in present day is around $1 million dollars worth. They were protesting how unreasonable the taxes were, which relates to Voltaire’s belief in reason.
  • Intolerable Acts

    Intolerable Acts
    “...The Boston Tea Party was met with the passing of the Intolerable Acts in 1774 by the British Crown. These … included the forced closure of Boston port and an order of compensation to the East India Company for damaged property. Town meetings were now also banned, and the authority of the royal governor was increased” (Tomes).
  • Intolerable Acts 2

    Intolerable Acts 2
    Town meetings were banned, which meant that colonists couldn’t share their thoughts or plan for what to do about the British. That is a form of revoking their freedom of speech. Because of this, the freedom of speech, one of Voltaire’s beliefs, is one of the laws in the Bill of Rights.
  • Works Cited 6

    Editors, History com. “Revolutionary War.” HISTORY, https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/american-revolution-history.
  • Works Cited 1

    “6 Key Causes of the American Revolution.” History Hit, https://www.historyhit.com/causes-of-american-revolution/.
  • Works Cited 2

    Beck, Roger, et al., editors. Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction. Student Edition: Holt McDougal, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
  • Works Cited 4

    Editors, History com. “Boston Tea Party.” HISTORY, https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party.
  • Works Cited 5

    Editors, History com. “John Locke.” HISTORY, https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/john-locke.
  • Works Cited 7

    Klein, Christopher. “10 Things You May Not Know About the Boston Tea Party.” HISTORY, https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-boston-tea-party.