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Which Had The Most Far Reaching Impact On American Culture:

958 words - 4 pages

The Enlightenment had the most far-reaching impact on American culture. The Enlightenment stemmed from the Scientific Revolution. The Scientific Revolution caused people to start thinking on their own and stop believing in, or at least question, the Bible. Although the Enlightenment started in England, it quickly spread through the colonies. The Enlightenment was key in helping set in motion the thought process that would eventually lead to the colonists to revolt against British rule. Enlightenment is the backbone of today’s democratic government. The Great Awakening had a bearing in that it gave people humanitarian beliefs to build on, but in the war for freedom that ensued, it was Enlightenment that fueled their fire.
Prior to Enlightenment the colonists, like the Europeans, were guided by their fear of God and rulers. They followed their church’s teachings blindly, as many of them could not read the scripture themselves. As the colonists began to educate themselves, they found that their interpretation of the readings did not always match what was preached to them in Sunday’s sermon. Even with the vamped up services and revivals during the Awakening many continued to question organized religion and separate from the Catholic Church. Many smaller denominations resulted from these breaks caused by the Awakening, leading to the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther even wrote entire doctrines based on his differences of opinion which would eventually form the basis for the Lutheran Church. The colonists also questioned the authority of their European rulers. Many believed that God himself had put their rulers in charge, but with all the political disasters and condemnation they were seeing they began to question their right to power. They began to wonder if royalty itself was just, and whether or not the rulers actually cared about their wellbeing.
Enlightenment first reached the colonies via the port cities, like Charleston, and circulated mainly thru the well-educated who discussed such matters. In 1869 John Locke, an Englishman, anonymously wrote a pamphlet called The Two Treatises of Government arguing that no monarchy had a divine right to power. Locke stated that is was simply by luck that those in rule were birthed into the royal family. Locke also wrote that governments should not exist without the consent the people. The colonists who were already rebellious of the power of their rule from afar, took great notice of Locke’s point of view. But Locke’s views were limited mostly to word of mouth and the few who sought out his publishing’s. Until Ben Franklin decided everyone should share in this knowledge and mass printed newspapers, flyers, and Poor Richard’s Almanac to educate the people. In Europe the Baron de Montesquieu proposed that society might benefit from a separation of government powers. Jean-Jacques Rousseau...

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