The Age Of Enlightenment

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The Age of Enlightenment lasted roughly from 1720-1790. It was a time when reason and logic were worshipped like gods. The core ideas of the Renaissance, humanism and the desire to improve society, collided and mixed with the Scientific Revolution’s need to discover and test truth by standards of reason and logic. At the heart of the Age of Enlightenment were a group of people known as philosophes. Philosophes were thinkers who firmly believed that the power of reason could be applied to all aspects of life. Reason was defined by the philosophes as being the absence of intolerance, bigotry, and prejudice. The many great thinkers of the Enlightenment transformed and affected history, especially through events in England, Russia, and the United …show more content…
It was a progressive country in which great change occurred. An extraordinary philosopher named John Locke helped to make this possible by helping the English people to justify their overthrowing of King James II. Locke believed that a government’s job was to protect the life, liberty, and property of its people. If a government did not protect these rights, the people had the right to overthrow it. Following the Glorious Revolution in 1688, England made John Locke a very happy philosopher by setting up a constitutional monarchy. This meant that monarchs could no longer abuse their power. The British monarch couldn’t rule without the consent of Parliament and, in turn, Parliament could do nothing without consent from the Monarch. Bridging the gap between the Monarch and Parliament was an executive committee of advisors called the cabinet. The cabinet, led by the leader of the majority party in Parliament, became the center of power in the English government. Philosophes thought that England’s government was the most progressive in all of …show more content…
The colonists had to fight the Revolutionary War in order to totally separate themselves from Great Britain. They were able to win this war against the British for a number of reasons: they had a strong leader in George Washington, they were passionate about what they were fighting for, and they were aided by France and Spain. Five years after winning the war and being recognized as a separate country, the U.S. finally decided on a constitution that it could be proud of and that satisfactorily balanced power between state and national governments. This constitution echoed the ideas of many Enlightenment thinkers. Montesquieu was one philosophe who had an especially large impact on the way America’s government was set up. He believed in dividing government into three branches that limited each other 's power so that no one branch or person could abuse their authority. This system of division is called separation of powers. Americans agreed with Montesquieu and divided their government into the three branches it has today: legislative, executive, and judicial. The writers of the Constitution also agreed with the ideas of Rousseau. Rousseau believed that liberty was each person’s natural birthright and that the consent of the general population was what gave governments their authority. All of the Enlightenment thinkers would have been pleased with the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

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