The Enlightenment in America

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How did the Enlightenment contribute to the development of US democracy or the Revolution?

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The birth of the United States was actually the first practical application of the ideas of the Enlightenment in structuring a government from scratch. The founders of the country took many ideas directly from Enlightenment philosophers and built them into the foundation of the new democracy.

For starters, the Founding Fathers broke away from England because, they argued, the Crown was not protecting their natural rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The idea of natural rights and a government's role in protecting them was espoused by John Locke. He argued that a government's power comes from the will of the people, not through the threat of force. The founders of the United States wanted to create a democracy that got its power from the popular will.

The structure of that government also came directly from the Enlightenment. The framers of the Constitution were concerned that too much power concentrated in one part of the government could lead to tyranny and abuses....

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1101 words.)

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