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Enlightenment Thinkers

  • Date Submitted: 03/22/2010 06:44 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 39.6 
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Hundreds of years ago great American minds were breaking barriers, starting revolution and addressing equality, something that had never been done in an era filled with ruthless monarchs. They wrote some of the foundations for the modern day western world over 200 years ago and yet their works are still relevant today. They wrote the Charters of Freedom, otherwise known as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and The Bill of Rights. But, as people stroll through museums to see these works, little do they know that ideas from the Age of Enlightenment inspired them. These same people all see the names of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and many others and yet they have no idea that the ideas of John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are what fueled some of the greatest minds in United States’ history. The ideas of these enlightenment thinkers played a large role in the charters of freedom and shaped the foundation of modern day American government.
John Locke is probably the enlightenment thinker who influenced the Declaration of Independence the most. John Locke believed in natural rights, which he said were life, liberty, property and health. Locke stated that these rights were not dependent on government, instead they were inherent, and if the government does not protect these natural rights they are morally obliged to revolt against it. This belief is directly parallel to those written in the Declaration of Independence where Thomas Jefferson, amongst others wrote “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles...

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