The Enlightenment & The American Revolution

  • 500 BCE


    Enlightenment thinkers influenced the American Revolution by countering the English government’s actions with values of basic human rights, equality, and justice, causing the American people to replace them with a more balanced government for the United States; same beliefs are reflected in today’s fight against racial discrimmination and injustice.
  • 340 BCE


    “Plato in his philosophy gives very important place to the idea of justice. He used the Greek word ‘Dikaisyne’ for justice which comes very near to the work 'morality' or 'righteousness', it properly includes within it the whole duty of man”(D.R. Bhandari).
    The popular philosopher Plato held the belief that justice was a right belonging to every person. He, in fact, used justice similarly to having morality. Plato believed that to have justice and serve justice was a natural right.
  • John Locke's 3 Natural Rights

    John Locke's 3 Natural Rights
    “[John Locke] argued that people have rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, that have a foundation independent of the laws of any particular society”(Library of Congress).
    The philosopher John Locke believed every person was born with three natural rights: the right to live, the right to freedom, and the right to own property. These natural rights belong to every person outside of their government-granted rights, henceforth a government should not/cannot violate those rights.
  • John Locke's Natural Right to Property

    John Locke's Natural Right to Property
    “John Locke proposes his theory of property rights in The Second Treatise of Government (1690). The theory is rooted in laws of nature that Locke identifies, which permit individuals to appropriate, and exercise control rights over, things in the world, like land and other material resources” (Swan).
    John Locke theorized natural rights. One of the main three rights was the right to possess property. Property could be land, resources, and other such items.
  • The Stamp Act

    The Stamp Act
    “Stamp Act, (1765), in U.S. colonial history, first British parliamentary attempt to raise revenue through direct taxation of all colonial commercial and legal papers, newspapers, pamphlets, cards, almanacs, and dice”(Britannica).
    The Stamp Act of 1765 placed and increased taxes on all paper goods throughout the colonies. The Stamp Act went against Adam Smith’s anti-tax belief...
  • The Stamp Act continued

    The Stamp Act continued
    The tax also went directly to the British Government rather than providing any aid to the colonies which cause problems for the colonies.
  • The Quartering Act

    The Quartering Act
    “The Quartering Act of 1765 required the colonies to house British soldiers in barracks provided by the colonies. If the barracks were too small to house all the soldiers, then localities were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualling houses and the houses of sellers of wine. ‘Should there still be soldiers without accommodation after all such publick houses were filled,’ the act read,
  • The Quartering Act (continued)

    The Quartering Act (continued)
    "‘the colonies were then required to take, hire and make fit for the reception of his Majesty’s forces, such and so many uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings as shall be necessary’”(History1).
  • Quartering Act Analysis continued

    Quartering Act Analysis continued
    For the colonists to be forced to provide shelter to British soldiers was a violation of Locke’s second natural right: the right to property. While the property was not being taken away, it was being invaded against their will.
  • Quartering Act Analysis

    Quartering Act Analysis
    The Quartering Act passed by the British government in 1765 obligated colonists to house British soldiers in their homes. If there was no room left for the soldiers in their homes or inns, the colonists were required to make room for them in any building available, including but not limited to empty houses or outhouses.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    “The Boston Massacre was a deadly riot that occurred on March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston. It began as a street brawl between American colonists and a lone British soldier, but quickly escalated to a chaotic, bloody slaughter. The conflict energized anti-British sentiment and paved the way for the American Revolution”(History).
  • Boston Massacre Analysis

    Boston Massacre Analysis
    The Boston Massacre was caused by a violent disagreement between a colonist and British soldier that escalated swiftly into a disastrous riot of blood and death. The Boston Massacre violated Locke’s number one natural right: the right to life.
  • The Philadelphia Resolutions 2

    The Philadelphia Resolutions 2
    "The Resolutions also made it clear that the group thought the money raised by the tea tax through the Townshend Acts would be used by the Crown to eliminate local governments run by the colonies”(Constitution Daily)
    The Philadelphia Resolutions allowed for Britain to spontaneously tax Americans, and take the money earned from that straight into the wealth of the Crown. The Crown would then use that money to take out the smaller governments run by the colonists.
  • The Philadelphia Resolution 1

    The Philadelphia Resolution 1
    “The publication of a document from the meeting called Philadelphia Resolutions triggered public protests in Boston and Philadelphia. ‘The claim of parliament to tax America, is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure,’ the Resolutions said. ‘The duty, imposed by parliament upon tea landed in America, is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them, without their consent.’
  • The Philadelphia Resolutions 3

    This action went directly against Olympe de Gouges’ belief in the equal dispersion of tax money. It also went against her belief in equality because the colonists who were trying to function apart of Britain were being harassed back under British rule.
  • The Intolerable Acts

    The Intolerable Acts
    “The Boston Port act…closed the port of Boston… The Massachusetts Government Act …placed them under the direct control of Great Britain…The Administration of Justice Act removed the ability of the colonists to hold trials of British officials in the colonies…Finally, a Quartering Act allowed royal governors, rather than colonial legislatures, to find homes and buildings to quarter or house British soldiers”
    (American Battlefield Trust).
  • The Intolerable Acts Analysis

    The Intolerable Acts Analysis
    The Intolerable Acts were a series of acts passed by the British government. These acts included the Boston Port Act which shut down the Port of Boston, and the Administration of Justice Act which made colonists unable to hold trials against British officials. The Administration of Justice Act directly violated Plato’s philosophy of the right to justice by making it impossible for colonists to properly punish British officials.
  • Adam Smith

    Adam Smith
    “Smith rejects government interference in market activities, and instead states governments should serve just 3 functions: protect national borders; enforce civil law; and engage in public works (e.g. education)” (Hayes).
    Adam Smith was a popular philosopher who believed that a government should not be involved in trade of any kind, and should assist only in civil affairs, as well as protect the nation’s borders.
  • Adam Smith Part 2

    Adam Smith Part 2
    He also promoted the idea of free trade, claiming that a person’s self-interest will provide more prosperity than would occur under the influence of government interference.
  • Olympe De Gouges

    Olympe De Gouges
    “[Olympe de Gouges] dreamt of a more equal society and proposed intelligent taxation plans to enable wealth to be more fairly divided” (Olympe de Gouges).
    Olympe de Gouges wrote about her beliefs that everyone should be equal. She also believed that the money earned from taxes should be dispersed equally amongst classes.
  • Revolutionary Citations 1

    “Boston Massacre.”, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009,
    “The Intolerable Acts.” American Battlefield Trust, 24 Aug. 2021,
    “On This Day, the Boston Tea Party Lights a Fuse.” National Constitution Center –,
  • Revolutionary Citations 2

    “Parliament Passes the Quartering Act.”, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009,
    “Stamp Act.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,
  • Enlightenment Citations 1

    20th WCP: Plato's Concept of Justice: An Analysis,,the%20whole%20duty%20of%20man.
    Hayes, Adam. “Adam Smith and ‘The Wealth of Nations.’” Investopedia, Investopedia, 5 Feb. 2022,
  • Enlightenment Citation 3

    Tuckness, Alex. “Locke's Political Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 6 Oct. 2020,