American Literature During The Colonial Period

910 words - 4 pages

American Literature During the Colonial Period

During the colonization of America, especially after the start of the Enlightenment movement in the late seventeenth century, science and religion were at a crossroads. On the scientific and rationalist side of the coin, you had philosophers and scientists such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, Common Sense, was what inspired many in the colonies to push for revolution. You also have others like Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. All of these men, in a way, contributed to the political atmosphere and the way of thought at that time, and many still do today (Isaac Newton being the best example of ...view middle of the document...

All of these are proof that, throughout the history of man, religion has ruled supreme to science and reason.
But, as time has gone on, there has been a slight shift in the balance. As Thomas Paine said, “Time makes more converts than Reason.” Gradually, people began to recognize that reasoning alone could allow man to survive in the world. We no longer needed to rely on God to make the sun rise, or the crops grow. The rationalist movement in the American colonies was the greatest example of a push for this. Now, religion and rationalism are not mutually exclusive. Benjamin Franklin, one of the greatest American philosophers and rationalists to have ever lived, believed God put him on this Earth, and he simply aimed to improve what God had given, through rationalism. This trend of belief in self preservation over religious reliance has continued, even into modern days.
All these changes in ideals and beliefs had a profound effect on literature, even after the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment. There became a greater acceptance and tolerance on both sides of the spectrum. Starting in 1536, John Calvin’s writings started a movement pushing for the influence of religious literature, followed by work in America, mostly sermons, by the likes of John Cotton and John Edwards. Beginning primarily with the Enlightenment, American writers like John Adams and John Locke began to vie for the idea that man can depend on themselves for survival. A mixture of these two sides of the same coin, result in the eventual independence of the American colonies, and the way they’re govern thereafter. For example, many choose to point out that God is quite prevalent in the American constitution. While this is true, the founding...

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