Impact of Enlightenment on America
There were many amazing people that were involved in the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening. These amazing people’s ideas would be the basis for the founding of the America we know. It would also inspire the American Revolution. It helped people in the America’s think for themselves.
The enlightenment was a cultural and scientific movement. In one mans words the enlightenment is better described as an, “Intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith.(L.L. p. 5) Some of the most prominent thinkers of the enlightenment were John Locke, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison. These leaders, “Spread new ideas about openness, investigation, and religious tolerance.(L.L. p.5) These figures of the enlightenment also spread the ideas of more equality and liberty. Because of the Enlightenment, there were many colleges that were founded for places of learning. Some such places were Princeton, Brown, Rutgers, Yale, and Dartmouth. In the middle of the Enlightenment, another historical period occurred, which is the Great Awakening.
The Great Awakening was a, “Religious revival that swept through the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s.(O. p.2) There were two very prominent leaders in the Great Awakening. They were Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. Both of these men, “Spread a message of personal and experiential faith that rose above mere book learning. Individuals could bring about their own salvation by accepting Christ.(L.L p.2) Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield brought about these ideas in two completely different ways. Jonathan Edwards taught by, “Using powerful word imagery to describe the terrors of hell and the possibilities of avoiding damnation by personal conversion. One of his sermons read The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation don’t slumber the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the flames do now rage and glow.(L.L. p. 4) George Whitfield on the other hand as, “An actor by training, he would shout the word of God, weep with sorrow, and tremble with passion as he delivered his sermons.(T.G.A. p.1) At one of George Whitefield’s sermons, he convinced the skeptic Benjamin Franklin to empty his purse. The Great Awakening was a very historic period and it came about because of the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment and Great Awakening were really big deals because they changed the way that American colonists thought and they lead to the American Revolution. There are multiple ways that the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening led to the Revolution. One of the reasons the enlightenment brought about the American Revolution is that it was the first major event that all the colonies were able to share. An impact of the Great Awakening was that, “God’s will was not necessarily interpreted by the monarch or his bishops, the colonists viewed themselves as more capable of performing the task. The chain of authority no longer ran from God to ruler to people, but from God to people to ruler.(S.O.T.G.A. p.2) This was a huge step toward the revolution because the people no longer believed that any king had divine right to rule. It was also contrary to the way England was set up. Because of the Enlightenment, the people as a whole become more independent, and developed a more think for yourself type of attitude. The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening helped people to become more independent.
Because of the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment the whole attitude of the colonists became more free. They also became independent thinkers and less willing to just accept things as happenstance. These Ideas really lead to the American Revolution and the America we know today.