Age of European Enlightment during the 18th to 19th Centuries
The age of the Enlightment inspired individuals to challenge the authority of kings. In fact, the Enlightment era almost began simultaneously with the reign of King George II and King George III, both being leaders of harsh religious and taxations restrictions and oppressive punishments. Their actions led to the American Colonists, the French Peasants, and South American nationalists striving for resolutions against their leaders.
In 1607, the first American colonists arrived in Jamestown, Virginia to begin a new life and escape religious persecution in Europe. These colonists belonged to the radical English Separatist Church; therefore, they wanted to travel to the America’s, to get away from the Jurisdiction of the Church of England. They created the Separatist Church, because they felt the English Church was corrupt, due to the persecution of nonmembers. This led the colonists to the Americas, were they could worship freely and develop the thirteen colonies of the United States. The thirteen colonies did not stop with religion rebellion against the King. In fact, [footnoteRef:1]The colonists claimed that, through the measures imposed from 1763 to 1766, George III (r. 1760-1820) and the British Parliament were attacking those liberties and dissolving the bonds of moral and political allegiance that had formerly united the two peoples. With this, the colonists were using a theory that had already been created to cause a rebellion in England, to help with there own revolution. [1: (Albert M. Craig. Etc. all. The Heritage of World Civilization 10th edition Vol. II (Hoboken: Person Publishing,2016), 22.1.2]
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In addition to the American Colonists disapproval of King George in Europe, the French and Britain were at odds as well. The Seven Years War, also known as the French and Indian War was fought in Europe during 1754-1763. This war took place due to the land dispute over the Ohio River Valley. The Prussians and the Britain’s grouped together to fight the war with France in North America. The American colonists of the French didn’t want the Britain’s wanting to take over part of North America. The French colonists and their army just couldn’t handle the power of the Britain army and their allies. The British took control of the French’s land in North America, and the British Empire would determine the future of the America’s.
With the victory over the French, the British could now control the colonies which lead to the British to impose taxes in the Americas. The Stamp Act of 1765, Congress gathered to protest the taxes that Britain wanted to impose. The American leaders didn’t agree nor believed the British had the right to impose the taxes. This Act would lead on to the Townshend Act. [footnoteRef:2]In 1767 British chancellor of the exchequer Charles Townshend (1725-1767) led Parliament to pass what are known as the Townshend Acts, to regulate and tax colonial imports. The Townshend Act infuriated the colonists in America. The colonists didn’t agree with the tax law. The American’s were approaching a rebellion, so the British sent troops to Boston to protect the officers of Boston. The American’s began to do a little fighting to show King George III and the British army they didn’t like the tax law. So, in March of 1770 the British army killed five citizens in what we call the Boston Massacre. In that same year the Parliament done away with the Townshend Act, except for the tea tax. [2: Albert Craig, 22.1.3]
In addition to the British eliminating the Townshend Act, except for the tax on tea this would lead into what we know as The Boston Tea Party. [footnoteRef:3]In May 1773 Parliament allowed the East India Company to import tea directly into the American colonies. This law made the price of tea low, but it engaged the tax without the colonists’ agreement. “In some cities the colonists refused to permit the tea to be unloaded; in the Boston, A shipload of tea was thrown into the harbor, an event known since as the Boston Tea Party. The prime minister of the British, Lord North was focused to emphasize the authority of the Kings and army over the colonies. [footnoteRef:4]In 1774 Parliament passed a series of laws known in American history as the Intolerable Acts. With this act, it closed the port of Boston, made the Massachusetts government relocate, and let the troops to move into private homes no one knew about. In the same year the Kings and leaders of the British approved the Quebec Act. The Quebec Act extended the boundaries of Quebec so it could include the Ohio River valley. [footnoteRef:5]The Americans regarded the Quebec Act as an attempt to prevent the extension of their mode of self- government westward beyond the Appalachian Mountains. In 1774 the first Continental Congress had a meeting in Philadelphia. The first group of Congressmen hoped to convince the Kings and leaders of the British to restore self-government, and to get rid of direct supervision of colonial affairs. [footnoteRef:6]By April 1775 the battles of Lexington and Concord had been fought and won by the colonists. That June the American colonist got beat in the battle of Bunker Hill. In May of 1775 the Second Continental Congress had a meeting. [footnoteRef:7]It still sought conciliation with Britain but soon undertook the government of the colonies. August of 1775 King George III declared a rebellion against the colonies. [3: Albert Craig, 22.1.3] [4: Albert Craig, 22.1.3] [5: Albert Craig, 22.1.3] [6: Albert Craig, 22.1.3] [7: Albert Craig, 22.1.3]
The rebellion King George III had against the American colonies played a big role in the American Revolution. A man by the name of Thomas Paine, wrote a pamphlet called, Common Sense. His pamphlet made the colonists of the Americas want to get rid of the British Kings and leaders. The colonies formed an army and navy to attack the British. [footnoteRef:8]In April 1776 the Continental Congress opened American ports to the trade of all nations. Then finally on a date we know very well, July 4, 1776 the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. This gained the Americans independence from England. This still didn’t end the American Revolution; the War still went on until 1781. The Americans beat the British at Saratoga, the French and Spain Armies helped America and sent in supplies and troops for help. In 1778 the war ended into a European conflict because Benjamin Franklin convinced the French government to support the rebellion. [footnoteRef:9]The forces of George Washington (1732-1799) defeated those of Lord Cornwallis (1738-1799) at Yorktown. In 1783 the Treaty of Paris ended the conflict, and the thirteen American gained their independence. After the Americans adopted the Constitution in 1788, the Americans would create The Bill of Rights to protect the civil liberties. [8: Albert Craig, 22.1.3] [9: Albert Craig, 22.1.3]
The American Colonies weren’t the only ones seeking independence from their superiors. Sometime in between 1791 and 1804 St. Domingue, a French colony reached independence. St. Domingue known as modern day Haiti, during this time had slaves that desired the same freedom and wanted the same rights as their superiors. The relationship between the slaves and masters of Haiti were violent and bloody throughout the eighteenth century. The French masters used racial separations quite often between the black slaves and mulatto freeman to take advantage of the slaves. [footnoteRef:10]Once the French Revolution had broken out in France, the French National Assembly in 1791 decreed that free property- owning mulattos in Haiti should enjoy the same rights as white plantation owners. In that same year a full-on slave Rebellion shook Haiti, it happened as a result of secret conspiracy between the slaves. The rebellion insisted of a lot of violence and death to people on both sides. The slaves of Haiti that led the rebellion became the first to succeed an attack on a colonial govern in Latin America. [10: Albert Craig, 22.3.2]
After the slaves of Haiti achieved a successful rebellion in Latin America, this led to other countries striving to rebel from their leaders. San Martin and Simon Bolivar helped a variety of places in Latin America. Both San Martin and Simon Bolivar were both liberator s in the Continent. [footnoteRef:11]Between 1811 and 1814 civil war broke out throughout Venezuela as both royalists, on the one hand, and slaves and llaneros (Venezuelan cowboys), on the other, challenged the authority of the authority of the republican government. Simon Bolivar was left to go into refugee. However, in 1816 he gained help from Haiti and he began to create a new attack against Venezuela. [footnoteRef:12]He first captured Bogota, capital of New Granda (including modern Columbia, Bolivia, and Ecuador), and used that as a base for attacking Venezuela.) A few years later in 1821, he was named president for capturing Caracas. “A year later, in July 1822, the armies of Bolivar and San Martin joined to liberate Quito.During a big meeting the two leaders disagreed on a future political structure in Latin America. Through out all the wars that Simon Bolivar and San Martin were in, they caused a lot of damage and destruction to infrastructure and the economics to the Latin Americans. But both men helped countries in Latin America gain independence from their leaders and rulers. [11: Albert Craig, 22.3.5] [12: Albert Craig, 22.3.5]
In the conclusion, with the age of the Enlightment, it inspired many individuals to challenge the authority of Kings. When the Europeans traveled to America to seek religious freedom, it began the revolution of enlighten not just for colonists, but French men and South American Nationalists as well. Each group of peoples strived to create their own ideals, systems and freedoms, no matter the cost. This desire for independence would allow nations across the world to see the importance of challenging superiors and the rewards for doing so, for centuries to come.