How Did Ideas From The Age Of Enlightenment Influence The Founding Fathers Of The United States?

The Age of Enlightenment was one of the most significant intellectual, philosophical, and cultural movement in Europe back in the 18th century. Philosophers like Denis Diderot and Voltaire helped led the Enlightenment ideology in France, where it gained the most popularity. Although the Enlightenment had its roots in Europe, its ideas has influenced the Founding Fathers of the United States. Read on to find out more.

Ideas Behind the Enlightenment

The three central concepts of the Enlightenment were the use of reason, the scientific method, and progress. Of these, the most important idea behind the Enlightenment was that everyone can reason and think for themselves. As such, people should not readily take in the words of authority figures without question. It is believed that people do not even have to believe the teachings of the church and priests. Given the strong religious faith in Europe at that time, this was an extremely novel idea.

Another notable idea of the Enlightenment was that a society functions best when people work together. People with noble statuses and the rich should not have more rights and privileges than those who are in the lower echelons of society. Everyone should have equal rights so they can all be united in creating and maintaining the society.

While these ideas seem normal in the modern world, they were very progressive for people in the past. With Enlightenment thinkers spreading the beliefs of challenging authority figures, those who were in power felt threatened. As a result, many Enlightenment thinkers were exiled or jailed.

Effects of the Enlightenment Ideas

Many of the Founding fathers of the United States supported the Enlightenment movement. One of the ideas was that the government has the responsibility of working to benefit all people in the country and not just the people in higher social classes. As such, this idea was made one of the most crucial part of the Constitution. In addition to this, here are some other important elements of the Enlightenment that have been implemented by the Founding Fathers when they created the new government:

  • Democracy
  • Freedom
  • Equal rights
  • Solving problems using rationalism and the scientific method

Significant Enlightenment Figures

These are some of the most significant Enlightenment figures in the United States who were responsible for advocating for Enlightenment ideas:

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Ethan Allen
  • James Wilson
  • George Mason
  • Thomas Paine
  • James Madison
  • John Adams

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