How did the Renaissance, Reformation and Great Awakening contribute to the establishment of the Political values that are found in the Constitution?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a loaded question.  I think that the Renaissance ideals of extolling the individual and the power that the individual can possess is something that is seen in the Constitution's affirmation of individual rights and creation of a zone of minimal external interference that allows individuals to do great things.  The First Amendment is a Renaissance ideal because it allows for the individual to use their own spirit of autonomy and freedom to make what is there better.  This is a Renaissance ideal, as seen with the affirmation of what the artist can do with a blank canvass.

Additionally, the Reformation's desire to change what it saw as wrong is seen in the Constitution's principles of popular sovereignty.  When the Reformation took place it recognized that the Catholic Church was wrong and acting in a manner that was wrongful.  It recognized that when the institution is not correct, it must be changed.  It is in this light that the desire to remedy an institution that is wrong was present, one can see the call for the Constitution's popular sovereignty in much of the same light.  The Constitution demands that individuals see their government doing wrong must call out and change it through the power of articulating their voice through voting.

Finally, I think that the Great Awakening, although a spiritual revivalist movement, can be found in the Constitution.  Great Awakening thinkers like Edwards and Mather demanded that spiritual worship undergo a revivification, and then when this enthusiasm is present, there is a greater life ahead.  The Framers believed a similar sentiment in that the more individuals possess passion and intensity about their political framework, the better off government and the individual will be.

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