Influences of the Era of Enlightenment

Most of the ideas that were developed during the era of Enlightenment underpin most of the elements in the present American society (American Library Association, 2007). Those ideas have shaped the political, social and economic aspects of United States. For instance, the idea that a government is a form of social contract between the people and the state were fundamental in the development of democracy. The idea of enlightened despotism that was developed in the Enlightenment era asserted that people could not be trusted to govern themselves but required a disciplined prince who could identify their needs and govern accordingly. These ideas helped to cultivate religious tolerance and freedom of speech, which characterize modern American Institutions. Many individuals shaped the era of Enlightenment and one of them was John Locke and English philosopher Rousseau. Both contributed many ideas that the colonialists later used to draft The Declaration of Independence and later the American constitution.          

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The American Revolution and other events that followed were greatly influenced by the ideas of the era of Enlightenment (Ralston, n.d.). The Enlightenment ideas about economy asserted that the people had a right to be subjected to fair taxation. The American Revolution occurred because of the unfair taxation from colonialists since the British government required extra income to counter the effects of war. Through the Enlightenment principles of freedom and reason, the British colonialists declared the taxes as being unfair and stood firmly against oppression, thus paving way for the American independence. Most of these ideas are still relevant in the American society since the same principles, for example, the principle of government as a form of social contract is inherent in the present democracy in the US. Moreover, there is freedom of tolerance, speech and equity in American institutions. The impact of the principles of Enlightenment have transcended to modern American institutions.

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