Colonialists were in search of a better life in the newly discovered land of the Americas. Ties with their mother-country of Britannia, over three thousand miles away, resulted in miscommunication and arguments. Eventually these arguments and miscommunications lead to the Revolutionary War, provoking many American Colonists to join the Continental Army. Each soldier from the militia to the regular recruits had reasons to fight; many of these reasons were influenced by the first Age of Enlightenment and other reasons were formed by personal experiences with the conflicts of Britannia and the American Colonies. The movie, The Patriot, presented many reasons that are supported by major historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, and that also are backed by personal testimonies of the American Colonists who joined the Continental Army.
The first Age of Enlightenment, which started in Europe around the 18th century, spread to the American Colonies where it caused colonists to believe “that all men are created equal [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” (Decl. of Ind. 1). The influence of the first Age of Enlightenment is simply shown in this quote because it refers to John Locke’s, an influential Enlightenment philosopher, work, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, which states that laboring men have a natural or God-given right to “life, liberty, health, and indulgency of body; and the possession of outward things,” (A Letter Concerning Toleration). The phrase “pursuit of happiness” comes from Richard Cumberland’s philosophy from his writings in De legibusnaturae; Richard believed that the pursuit of the good for all contributes to the good of each, bringing personal happiness. John Locke’s and Richard Cumberland’s works influenced the American Colonies and impassioned many colonists to retaliate against Britannia rule.
James Thatcher, an American militia soldier for the Continental Army, kept a journal of his thoughts and feelings. His journal shows that he was also disgusted by the Brittanian claim to rule the colonies “as the only supreme and uncontrollable legislative power,” (John Thatcher January) when he said that “the people of these colonies consider themselves as British subjects, entitled to all the rights and privileges of Freemen. It is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally or by their representatives,” (John Thatcher January). This crime against the American's natural rights was Thatcher's reason for joining the Continental Army. John Thatcher’s personal accounts, which many Continental Army man and militia would agree upon as their motives too, supports the movie and also shows the impact the first Age of Enlightenment had on the people in the American colonies.