What Did The Enlightenment Thinkers Say About Government Essay

31. The Navigation Acts of 1651 were British laws that restricted colonial trade. They were designed to do two things: force the thirteen colonies to trade only with Britain and weaken Britain’s rivals, especially the Dutch. The Acts placed limits on how the colonies could trade with other countries. For example, heavy taxes meant that colonists taxed when they imported certain things from other nations. Limits in imports meant that ships from other nations could not deliver goods to the thirteen colonies. Lastly, limits on exports meant that many goods had to be shipped to a British port first, before they could be sold to other countries. The purpose of the laws was to restrict colonial trade through taxes.

32. In 1686, King James II wanted more control over the American colonies, so he combined the New England colonies with New Jersey and New York to form the Dominion of New England. This took away some of the Dominion colonies’ rights to govern themselves and created more resentment of the English rulings among the American colonists.

33. James II was very unpopular in both England and the colonies. Colonists resented his strict rulings and taxes, and the English Protestants were upset that his policies supported Catholics, as he was Catholic. As a result, James II fled England to avoid opposition in fear of the people raising an army against him. The peaceful overthrow of James II in 1688 was called the Glorious Revolution. William and Mary became joint monarchs and the Glorious Revolution led to an end to the Dominion of New England. Although there was no revolutionary war or battle of conquest, the glory in this revolution was the fact that it was peaceful and no blood was shed.

34. As racial and humane mistreatment of slaves began to appear more and more frequently, so did revolts. On September, 1739, the largest slave rebellion, known as the Stono Rebellion, occurred in British North America. Around 20 Africans raided a store, taking guns and weapons and also killing two shop-keepers. These crazed rebels marched towards promised freedom in Spanish Florida with waving flags and beating drums, chanting “Liberty!” As they marched, about 40 to 60 more rebels joined the slaves during a 15-mile tread. At least 20 whites were killed, and the rebellion was ended when a militia finally caught the rebels, killing at least 34 of them. The survivors were captured and executed.

35. Salutary neglect was a British policy that acted as a turning point in the governmental changes after the Glorious Revolution. Salutary comes from the word that means “producing a good effect” and neglect comes from the word that means “to overlook or ignore.” So, the British ended up with salutary neglect, or “an act of overlooking or ignoring that produced positive results.” An example of this was when the British relaxed enforcement of colonial rules, especially trade laws and the colonies grew richer and more independent as a result, thus increasing pressure on the British monarchy.

36. James Oglethorpe was the founder of Georgia in 1732 who wanted to give Britain’s poor debtors, or people who owed money, a fresh start. He was granted a charter to start the colony of Georgia, and, according to this document, a founder of the colony could not profit from it. Because Georgia was founded for humanitarian reasons, it was governed by different rules: the colony was not allowed to have a representative assembly, rum was not allowed, and African slavery was prohibited. Oglethorpe worked hard to establish good relationships with local American Indian, negotiating treaties to keep Georgia safe from attack and making American Indians an important part of Georgia’s economy. However, Georgia’s colonists did not like the restrictions placed on them. And the rules were soon abandoned. Slavery was legalized in 1751 and, by 1770, enslaved people made up half of the population.

37. The Enlightenment was a period of European history during the 1600s and 1700s. Enlightenment thinkers tried to use reason to understand the way the world works and improve life. Enlightenment thinkers asked three key questions about government: Where does a government get its authority from? What kinds of natural rights do humans have? Does government have a responsibility to respect the rights of its citizens? The Enlightenment sparked many ideas, including the belief that a government cannot take away natural rights, people can justly overthrow a government that does not protect their rights, the Constitution divided the government into three branches, using the concept of separation of powers, and the Constitution begins with the words “We the people,” reflecting the importance of the will of the people to the US government. So, the Enlightenment helped convince many colonists of new ideas: people have natural rights, governments should represent the people, unjust governments should be overthrown, and government power should be balanced.

38. John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher who wrote many works, including Two Treatises of Government (1690). He supported democracy and believed that everyone was born with certain individual rights. He argued that these natural rights (life, liberty, and property) were not given by government or given by God and cannot be taken away by government. He also believed that there was a social contract between a government and its people. People agree to obey government as long as it defends their natural rights and people have the right to overthrow an unjust government.

39. By the early 1700s, the role of religion in the colonies was in decline. The First Great Awakening was a powerful religious revival in the colonies between 1720 and 1740 as traveling preachers (some women or enslaved persons) gave lively sermons that drew large audiences. Two main events caused this Great Awakening: colonists had grown complacent with their worship and ministers brought emotion into worship services. This led to a new interest in worship and religion. As a result of the Great Awakening, divisions were developed in religious groups, with some members supporting the revival and others not. It also led to broader tolerance of religious diversity and spurred the growth of universities to train new ministers. Additionally, the Great Awakening led to the growth of Baptist and Methodist churches and laid the foundation for the Second Great Awakening that would occur in the years 1800-1830.

40. Deism is the belief that our universe was created by God, but he has distanced himself from us and remains apart from our world. In turn, he has permitted us, his creations, to administer and govern ourselves through the practice of our natural laws. In this sense, deism rejects the supernatural aspects present in religion and dismisses the Bible, instead stressing the importance of ethical conduct.

41. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a famous minister who gave fiery sermons and contributed to the Great Awakening. He also published works that brought about and defended the Great Awakening. Such emotional and inspiration speeches sparked the interest in religion that was subsided for so many years due to isolation from churches and fellow neighbors. Johnathan Edward’s best known sermon was called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Like other preachers of the time, he evoked terrifying images for listeners and convinced his congregation of his beliefs using fear.

42. George Whitefield (1714-1770) was an English preacher who was invited to tour the colonies and the most famous leader of the Great Awakening. He was known for his dramatic preaching as he called on listeners to repent their sins and seek salvation. His practices promoted a new religious idea in the colonies that his followers should avoid sin and live by ethics and morals.

43. As the French and Indian War began, American colonists were preparing for the conflict. In 1754, Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan, which was a call for all colonists to join together in a single “union” and a plan for protection against threats. The Albany Plan of Union consisted of a grand council and president general who would rule over the colonies, with the power to solve colonial land disputes, handle relations with American Indians, organize colonial defenses, and impose taxes. Despite being such a stable idea, the Albany Plan of Union was never put into place. The colonies rejected It as they feared losing power and independence and worried about losing territory to other countries. On the other hand, the British rejected it because they felt uneasy about the idea of colonial unity and believed that colonial needs were already being met. However, the significance of the Albany Plan of Union was that it was the first attempt to unite the colonies.