The Enlightenment Influence on American Government

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AP Government Summer Assignment The Enlightenment was a European intellectual movement that encouraged individualism and reason instead of tradition. Thinkers such as John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu wrote powerful works revealing these Enlightenment ideas. These works heavily influence the formations of governments. Ideas from these writers and their works are particularly evident in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. The Virginia Declaration of Rights is a document that was written in 1776 to protect the rights of men before the development of the United States. The Declaration of Independence is a document that declared the United States’ separation with England. The Constitution is the supreme law of America. Without the enlightenment works of Locke, Rousseau and Montesquieu fundamental ideas would not be present in today’s United States government. John Locke was a great philosopher and the father of Classical Liberalism. In his work “Second Treatise of Civil Government” many of his values. His ideas had the intention of making all men free and equal, the foundation of the law in Virginia Declaration of Rights, Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States was directly influenced by Locke’s work in that he believed that when people give up complete freedom and some rights to form a government and elect people in authority to act in this government. Whoever refuses to follow these laws will be punished accordingly. Locke also specifically states that all societies and governments should be set up for the common benefits and protection of the people. When this is done rules can be followed and the civility of society may continue. In this way Constitutions are created by people who consent to the appointment of men in authority to
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