The American Revolution: The Events Of The Enlightenment Era

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Past events often weave themselves in and out of history, as it takes place, creating similar themes throughout the span of time. When an event is taking place, however, it is difficult to understand just how much previous decisions impact the present reality. It is not usually until one is well removed from a period of historical significance that one begins to comprehend the scope of influence. The American Revolution is one of these such events. At the time, it was easy to view it as a removed, separate event that was paving its own path, but now it is significantly visible that the American Revolution was heavily impacted by a period of previous history: The Enlightenment era and its roots in the rest of the Atlantic World. In history class,…show more content…
One such illustration would be the impact of the state of nature notion. If the state of nature is to be believed then it is fair to look at colonial-America and see their frustration with being, at times, unable to control their own decisions. The first such practical example of the aforementioned concept would be the White Pine Acts, created by the British, that was discussed by Pauline Maier. These acts were enacted to prohibit the cutting down of certain white pine trees and, by prohibiting them, directly impacted the local economies of towns in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. In what can be seen as a practical application of John Locke’s ideas on the state of nature, the colonists pushed back against the government in the form of riots. This forceful, yet distant, form of governmental rule continued to further an atmosphere of absolutism. Absolutist rule kept most of the colonists in line for some time, but some colonists took hold of the idea as one of their own personal reasons to oppose Great Britain’s rule over the colonies. Another aspect of the American Revolution that can draw a direct correlation from the Enlightenment era is personal freedom. Of all the conditions that the Enlightenment period hinges on, and the American Revolution exemplifies it would be personal freedom. Kant states that “for the public to enlighten itself; indeed, if it is only given freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable.” It is clear to see that, at least in Kant’s eyes, Enlightenment was, in most cases, a byproduct of freedom for the individual. Maier makes the point that, while many colonists had not been keen on splitting from Britain, they were extremely interested in the rights and freedoms that would come along with it. This concept can draw distinct origins from John Locke’s state of nature that has

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