Age of Enlightenment
While the early 18th century American philosophical tradition was decidedly marked by religious themes, the latter half saw a reliance on reason and science, and, in step with the thought of the Age of Enlightenment, a belief in the perfectibility of human beings, laissez-faire economics, and a general focus on political matters.
Four of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison, wrote extensively on political issues. In continuing with the chief concerns of the Puritans in the 17th century, the Founding Fathers debated the interrelationship between God, the state, and the individual. Resulting from this were the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, ratified in 1776 and 1788, respectively.
The Constitution sets forth a federated republican form of government that is marked by a balance of powers accompanied by a checks and balances system between the three branches of government: a judicial branch, an executive branch led by the President, and a legislative branch composed of a bicameral legislature where the House of Representatives is the lower house and the Senate is the upper house.
While the Declaration of Independence does contain within it references to the Creator, the Founding Fathers were decidedly not exclusively theistic, some openly professing personal concepts of deism, as was characteristic of other European Enlightenment thinkers, such as Maximilien Robespierre, François-Marie Arouet (better known by his pen name, Voltaire), and Rousseau. The most notably and self-consciously Christian of the Founding Fathers was John Adams. However, the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, states that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion".
Thomas Paine, the intellectual, pamphleteer, and revolutionary who wrote Common Sense and Rights of Man was an influential Enlightenment thinker and American Founding Father. Common Sense, which has been described as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era" provides justification for the American revolution and independence from the British Crown.
Other articles related to "age of enlightenment, enlightenment":
... philosopher who started the revolution in empirical thought that characterized much of the enlightenment ... and one of the earliest influences on the Enlightenment thinkers to advocate tolerance between the different religious beliefs ... Balthasar Bekker (1634–1698) Dutch, a key figure in the Early Enlightenment ...
... It is, during this period that the word "science" gradually became more commonly used to refer to the pursuit of a type of knowledge, and especially knowledge of nature — coming close in meaning to the old term "natural philosophy". ...
... and science, and, in step with the thought of the Age of Enlightenment, a belief in the perfectibility of human beings, laissez-faire economics, and a ... of deism, as was characteristic of other European Enlightenment thinkers, such as Maximilien Robespierre, François-Marie Arouet (better known by his pen name ... who wrote Common Sense and Rights of Man was an influential Enlightenment thinker and American Founding Father ...
... The Age of Enlightenment was well received in Swiss cities, in spite of contemporary tendencies towards political conservatism ...
Famous quotes containing the words age of and/or age:
The Renascence, the age of Pericles, each
A broad, rich-carpeted stair to pride
With manhood now the cost theyre easy to follow
For the ways taken are all notorious,
Lettered, sculptured, and rhymed....”
—Allen Tate (18991979)
“Columbus stood in his age as the pioneer of progress and enlightenment. The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the days demonstration. Let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the country and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.”
—Benjamin Harrison (18331901)