The Age Of Enlightenment And The Founding Fathers

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“The United States did not create human rights. In a very real sense it is the other way around: Human rights created the United States.” Stated by Jimmy Carter, this quote delineates the manner in which the citizens of the United States enjoy an abundance of rights. The foundation of these rights emerged from the ideologies of the Founders, which in turn were tremendously influenced by numerous occurrences in the world’s history, including the advancements of the Age of Enlightenment. Accordingly, how and why did the ideas established in this epoch influence the American Founders? The Age of Enlightenment brought about numerous revolutionary concepts regarding government and its purpose that influenced the Founding Fathers and served …show more content…
The Declaration of Independence guaranteed the rights of the colonists that had been violated by the British government. One of the main ideas of the Declaration stated that, “The rights of the people are based on a higher law than laws made by humans… They are given by ‘the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God’ and are ‘unalienable.’” The use of Locke’s theory regarding natural rights delineates the manner in which the oppression the colonists faced led to a larger comprehension of the rights expressed by the theories of the Enlightenment. Thus, the Founders utilized the developments of the Enlightenment to shape the American government. Accordingly, the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment were also included in state constitutions following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Along with the idea of natural rights, the ideas of popular sovereignty and limited government were incorporated in state constitutions. In We the People, it states, “All the new state constitutions stated that sovereignty, or ultimate authority, rests with the people. The people delegate authority to the government to govern in accordance with constitutional requirements.” This highlights the manner in which the crucial concepts of the Age of Enlightenment served as the basis for the constitutions that dictated the rights of American citizens. The ideological developments of the Enlightenment were referenced frequently by the Founders throughout the evolvement of the United States

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