Describe the Enlightenment and the Enlightenment's influence on the American Revolution and French Revolution.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Enlightenment was an era in Europe in which there was a transition from religious thought and irrationality to the application of reason and investigation to acquire truth. The Enlightenment was inspired by the scientific revolution and the Renaissance.

The colonists directly referenced principles of Enlightenment political philosophy to achieve their severance from England. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was heavily directed by John Locke. Locke, the English philosopher in the Seventeenth Century spoke of natural rights that no government can abridge. These rights included life, liberty, and property. Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were all Enlightenment thinkers that advocated for popular sovereignty. The issue of taxation without representation correlates to the notion of popular sovereignty and was paramount to the colonists as a motive for separation from England. The various phases of the French Revolution were also inspired by a variety of Enlightenment thinkers. A detailed description of the French influences can be found on the source I provided below.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial