The American Enlightenment, Essay Example

The first European settlers in North American were primarily colonists, many of whom were from England. These early colonists were not greatly concerned with politics, as merely surviving and trying to produce profitable goods for European trade were more important. As the colonies began to grow, and the colonists became more established and more prosperous, they were able to spend more time considering other issues. Just as the Enlightenment in Europe altered the way many people viewed the nature of political and social issues, so too did it have a significant effect on many North American colonists.

The Enlightenment was a time where people began to question traditional forms of political power, such as the divine right of kings to rule. It was an age of humanism and reason, and it gave rise to the idea of republicanism and rule by the people. As some North American colonists began to prosper economically, they also began to develop a desire for self-determination and liberty that was not available under the rule of the British monarch. As these ideas became more popular, a growing movement of colonists wishing to be free of British rule began to take shape. One such colonist was Thomas Paine, who write a pamphlet titled “Common Sense,” in which he directly challenged the authority of King George and the British government to rule the colonies. Paine was just one of many who were influenced by the ideals and ideas of the Enlightenment, and it was the spread of these new ideas that served as the ideological foundation of the American Revolution.