The Great Awakening And The Enlightenment

866 WordsDec 10, 20144 Pages
The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment both profoundly impacted the American Revolution. Both ideas brought about a better understanding of the role of government in governing its people, the function of religion in the State, and a more general keener awareness of the rights of man. However, overall, the Enlightenment played the most pivotal role in bringing the American Revolution to fruition. The Great Awakening’s goal was to merely enhance the role of religion in people’s lives, and did not necessarily revolve around religious freedom. Nevertheless, the ideas it produced paved the way for greater religious tolerance in America. Basically, it was a struggle against the tyrannical nature of the established churches. The precepts of the Enlightenment did not concentrate simply on religious liberty. It concentrated on universal ideas such as limited government, popular sovereignty, private property and yet others. And in order to secure these civil liberties, it was first necessary to establish a government predicated on limited authority. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “What, then, is the government? An intermediary body established between the subjects and the sovereign for their mutual communication, a body charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of freedom, both civil and political.” It is remarkable that at one stage or another, these two great philosophies actually clashed on core topics, such as faith itself. While many
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