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Enlightenment & Revolutions

Main Idea: Enlightenment ideas helped spur the American colonies to create a new nation.


IV.   American Revolution

A.    Britain & Its Colonies

a.    British tax and trade laws regulate the colonists’ import and export of goods

B.    Americans Win Independence

a.    England angers the colonists by expecting them to pay the debts of the French and Indian War; Stamp Act

b.   Colonists protest England’s harsh taxes and begin to organize

c.    Colonial leaders use Enlightenment ideas to justify independence and to write the Declaration of Independence

                                                                         i.      List of grievances

                                                                      ii.      John Locke—right to rebel against an unjust ruler

d.   Americans are victorious

                                                                         i.      Motivated to fight

                                                                      ii.      French assistance

                                                                    iii.      Overconfident British generals

C.    Creating a Republic

a.    To protect their authority, the 13 states create a weak national government—Articles of Confederation: fails

b.   Constitutional Convention delegates create a new system of government based on Enlightenment ideas

                                                                         i.      Locke: gov’t power comes from the consent of the people, religious toleration

                                                                      ii.      Beccaria: accused have rights, no torture

                                                                    iii.      Montesquieu: separation of powers

                                                                    iv.      Rousseau: direct democracy

                                                                      v.      Voltaire: free speech

c.    The new government system is made up of three separate branches

d.   Bill of Rights is created to further protect the rights of the individual citizens