In what ways did the ideas of the Enlightenment contribute to the Atlantic revolutions?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ideas in Enlightenment played a role in the Atlantic revolutions as shown by the objectives of these revolutions among them being republicanism. Republicanism is a type of government where the leader is a representative of the people unlike in monarchies and aristocracies where the people are subjects to the leader. This ideology comes from the idea of Enlightenment which states that all men are created equal and nature accords them equal opportunities. Atlantic revolutions were thus motivated by the need to change governance of territories from monarchies and aristocracies to republicanism.

An example of Enlightenment ideals can be found in statements made in the American Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Similar statements were documented in other countries that were involved in the Atlantic revolution and in other revolutions throughout the world.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ideas of the Enlightenment contributed to the Atlantic revolutions in at least two important ways.

First, these ideas gave the revolutionaries a logic for challenging the regimes that ruled them.  They were not simply trying to overthrow one king for another.  Instead, they were questioning an entire system based on the idea that the system was not based on reason and natural law.

Second, these ideas gave the revolutionaries an alternative system to strive for.  The rebels did not simply have to be against the current system.  Instead, they had ideas of things like government by the consent of the governed and separation of powers.  These ideas had come to them through such Enlightenment thinkers as Locke and Montesquieu.

In these ways, Enlightenment ideas contributed greatly to the Atlantic revolutions.