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Historic Document

  • Thomas Hobbes

    Thomas Hobbes
    Hobbes believed in an absolute monarchy. He thought that people were wicked and could not govern themselves, and that they would act on behalf of their best interests. Hobbes called the way that people act in a society a "social contract." His ideas were not popular in the US but they were in other countries with monarchies.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    Locke's "essay of human understanding" outlined a theory of identity and selfhood. He believed in the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. Thomas Jefferson used his ideas to help write the Declaration of Independence.
  • Voltaire

    Voltaire described the ideas of freedom of speach, freedom of religion, and the right to a fair trial. His ideas were used by the founding fathers in the Bill of Rights (first amendment).
  • Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin
    Franklin served as a US ambassador to France and later served as the governor of Pennsylvania. He also beleived that people could govern themselves, which is similar to what Rousseau thought.
  • Baron De Montesquieu

    Baron De Montesquieu
    Montesquieu published the "Spirit of Laws" which was an investigation of the environmental and social relationships that lie behind the laws of civilized society.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Rousseau beleived that human beings are basically good by nature, but were corrupted by the complex historical events that resulted in present day civil society. He had a social contract of common good, thought "Man is born free," and thought people should have natural rights. Some of his ideas were implemented in the Constitution--for example, he thought there should be equality among people.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    The Boston Massacre was a violent encounter between British soldiers and a crowd of colonists. The soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five people. This was a key event to help the public start to come together. This connects to the Enlightenment because the colonists believed they should have a voice in their government, which is an Enlightenment idea.
  • The Tea Act of 1773

    The Tea Act of 1773
    The Tea Act was one of many measures imposed on the colonists by the British government. The point of this tax was to bail out the East India Tea Company, which was a key part in the British economy. This resulted in the Boston Tea Party. This connects to the Enlightenment because they were both times of revolt.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    The Boston Tea Party was an act of protestation against taxation. Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard. This brought the two sides closer to war.This connects to the Enlightenment because this was a revolt.
  • Revolution

    Colonists rebeled against the idea that they could not govern themselves. They were under a king and wanted to break away and form their own government. The Enlightenment period was a time of reason and revolt. The colonists did not feel the monarchy was a fair and reasonable government and revolted because of it.This relates to the Enlightenment because the Enlightenment was a revolution.
  • The Declaration of Independence

    The Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a formal document which stated the intentions of the colonists for their independence. Written by a five-man committee at the start of the revolutionary war, the Declaration was based on John Locke's essays and ideas.
  • John Adams

    John Adams
    Adams was a member of the first Continental Congress and was active in drafting the Declaration of Independence. He was also against slavery. He had some of the same thoughts as the philosopher, Jean Rousseau, that all people should be equal.
  • Articles of Confederation

    Articles of Confederation
    It served as the written document that established the functions of the National Goverment. It created a weak central goverment. It was similar to the ideas of a democracy.
  • Problems that lead to the need for the constitution

    Problems that lead to the need for the constitution
    The Articles of Confederation were incomplete, and the founding fathers decided they needed to ratify them. For example: it called for a weak central goverment, Congress could not tax or regulate commerce among states, it had no common currency, it only gave one vote per state regardless of size, and it did not call for an executive and judicial branch. Ideas from all of the five main elightment philosophers were used in the Constitution--for example, the three branches of goverment.
  • Northwest Ordinance

    Northwest Ordinance
    The Northwest Ordinance was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. It provided a method for admitting new states to the union from the territory.
  • The U.S. Constitution

    The U.S. Constitution
    The Constitution establishes our national government, fundamental laws and basic rights for citizens. The Constitution is based off the Spirit of Laws written my Baron De Montesquie.
  • Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates

    Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates
    Between September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution was signed by the Constitutional Convention, and May 29, 1790, the day the last state ratified the Constitution, Federalists and Anti-Federalists debated. Some still debate to this day the best form of government. What rights must the government protect? This connects to the Enlightenment because the Enlightenment period was a time of debate over government philosophies.
  • Robert Yates

    Robert Yates
    Yates was an anti-federalist who wrote the anti-federalist essays, published in 1787. Many anti-federalists wrote under made-up names. Yates wrote under the names Brutus and Sydney. Yates can be connected to Rousseau because they both shared the same belief that man is born free.
  • James Madison

    James Madison
    James Madison was a federalist who supported the ratification of the Constitution. He was one of a few who wrote the federalist papers, which were printed in 1788.He was the fourth president of the United States and is considered the father of the Constitution.One of his special contributions was reworking some of the language about religious freedom. He could be compared to Voltaire because he beleived in freedom of religion too.
  • George Washington

    George Washington
    Washington was the first President of the United States after playing a key role in the Revoulutionary war. He was the leader of the Continental Army. Washington Agreed with Montesquieu that there should be a separation of powers.
  • The Bill of Rights

    The Bill of Rights
    The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the rights of the citizens, and they cannot be taken away. The man greatly credited for the Bill of Rights is James Madison. The Bill of Rights is strongly based on the Magna Carta.
  • Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson
    Jefferson played a big role in the revolutionary war and later went on to become the third president. He was also the main author of the Declaration of Independence. He used ideas from John Locke in the writing of the Declaration of Independence.