What are three Enlightenment ideas used in the Declaration of Independence?

Core Enlightenment ideals used in the Declaration of Independence include the idea that all people are entitled to certain rights just by virtue of being human, the belief that a government’s legitimacy comes from the consent of the governed, and the idea that a government’s main purpose is to protect the rights of the people.

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The entire Declaration of Independence is saturated with Enlightenment-era ideas and influences, the most noticeable and famous of which stem from John Locke. It can itself be labeled a product of the Enlightenment and an illustration of Enlightenment-era political thought.

Like Locke, the leaders of the American Revolution envisioned politics as fundamentally contractual, being based on a contract between the rulers and the ruled. This tradition of political theory, known as social contract theory, was one of the most famous strands of political thought associated with the Enlightenment, one which stretches outside of Locke to also embrace the absolutist Hobbes (who predated Locke), as well as the later Rousseau. The entire argument sketched out in the Declaration of Independence is contractual at its core, stating that Great Britain has failed to uphold its obligations to the colonies, and therefore the colonies have a legitimate claim to independence. Note how the entire Declaration...

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