The Enlightenment's focus on individual rights and empirical science strongly influenced currents of political and economic development in both Europe and the American colonies. Enlightenment thinking treated the existence of both proper science and natural rights as objective facts that could be grasped by any rational person with a proper education.
The Enlightenment's focus on individualized natural rights and the power of reasoned persuasion created the conditions for the British colonists to see themselves as individuals who had the right to self-govern. The work of philosophers like John Locke and Montesquieu was particularly influential. In his Second Treatise, Locke made the case for life, liberty, and property as natural rights. He also argued that a government that did not respect citizens' natural rights could justifiably be overthrown.
The Enlightenment understanding of natural rights and the right to revolution is present in a number of colonial constitutions and treaties as...
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