Enlightenment Timeline

By Alex K
  • Montesquieu Publishes His Book, On the Spirit of Laws

    In this book, Montesquieu proposed that a separation of powers would prevent any one person or group from gaining too much power. This developed into the idea of "checks and balances" that forms the basis of the United States Constitution.
  • America Declares Independence

    The Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. It was based a lot on the ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment that men have natural rights.
  • The French Revolution

    France's economy was in trouble. The "third estate" was increasingly poor and had no power to influence the government. The "second estate" (rich nobles) and the "first estate" (Catholic clergy) did not want change. King Louis XVI wanted a new tax. The second estate forced a meeting of the "Estates General" about this tax. The third estate named itself the National Assembly representing the French people. They were locked out and signed the Tennis Court Oath to make a constitution.
  • Napoleon Overthrows the Directory Through a Coup D’etat

    The Directory resulted from the course of the French Revolution. There was awful violence and no fair rule of law. Napoleon saw the opportunity to seize power. His troops surrounded the National Legislature and drove out the members.
  • Haiti Gains Freedom from France

    100,000 enslaved Africans rose up in revolt against France. From the Toussaint L'ouverture became their leader. Even though he was unfamiliar with miltary tactics, he was a skilled general and diplomat. Eventually the French captured him and sent him to the French Alps where he died. From there Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint's lieutenant took over. Then, Dessalines declared it an independent country; it was the first black colony to gain independence from Europe.
  • Napoleon Makes Himself Emperor and Expands his Empire

    Napoleon placed the crown on his own head, taking it from the Pope who was waiting for him at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He showed that he is more powerful than the Church.
  • Padre Hidalgo Declares Mexican Independence

    Padre Hidalgo rings the bells of his church to gather the people together. He inspires them to fight for independence from the Spanish He was in the town Dolores, so this is known as the "Gritto de Dolores," the cry of Dolores. The next day, his followers marched toward Mexico City.
  • Napoleon is Defeated at the Battle of Waterloo

    At Waterloo, it was raining when Napoleon and his troops arrived. He waited before attacking the British from there because he didn't want to use horses in wet land. By the time the ground dried and he attacked, the Prussians were nearby on the other flank. Napoleon could have defeated either army, but not both together. He was trapped and defeated. He was shipped to the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic by the British. He lived there for 6 years until he died.