(Simplify/Humanizer essay – 5 paragraphs)

Instructions: Define the Enlightenment. Identify the most prominent thinkers. Include in your answer Deism. Explain how the colonials used the ideas of the enlightenment to justify their independence.

The 1700s were the era of the Enlightenment.It was an age of reason.Authority was questioned and traditions were challenged.The Enlightenment broke away from the power of religion and royal monarchy.The ideas of the Enlightenment led to the science, logic and analysis that began to dominate the world.Pivotal thinkers showed the way.René Descartes insisted: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ John Locke claimed that people possessed natural rights to life, liberty and property.Voltaire championed free speech.Adam Smith wrote about economics.Immanuel Kant worked on ethics.Deism was a form of belief in God.Deists believed in God but not in miracles.God created the world and its laws, but after that he left it to run on its own – and that made sense in the American colonies.These Enlightenment doctrines furnished the colonies with a rationale for secession: then, led by Thomas Jefferson, they turned them into a new constitution for an independent America, one that helped to seize the revolutionary reins from revolutionary Paris.The Declaration of Independence, written by Jefferson, declares ‘all men are created equal’, and that they have a natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and a further, positive right ‘to abolish government when it becomes destructive to these ends’, inspired as it was by John Locke.The Enlightenment came to the US as well, not only in shaping the US government, but in the influences behind the Constitution.A separation of powers was created by the founders of the country to prevent what they saw as the tyrannical abuse of power that they had come to the New World to escape.The founders were strong supporters of reason and education as well as fairness, individual liberty and universal rights.The legacy of the Enlightenment still lives on today, both through its specific ideas of reason and equality as well as its more general focus and the positive values it helps to support.