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The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on European Colonies

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Title: The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on European Colonies


1
The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on
European Colonies
Voltaire
Ben Franklin
2
A Cultural Explosion in Europe The Renaissance
  • Started in the 1400s A.D.
  • Europeans became wealthier, mainly through
    increased trade
  • This gave them the ability to spend money on
    culture art, architecture, books, drama,
    science, exploration, etc.
  • Europeans increasingly felt that they might be
    able to rebuild advanced civilizations to match
    those of the ancient Greeks and Romans

3
(you dont need to take notes on this slide!)
Renaissance Art is Often Studied Because it
Demonstrates the Cultural Explosion
4
The New Daring of European Renaissance Thinkers
Led to Amazing Accomplishments
  • Perhaps most notably, it led to the discovery of
    both a New World and of a set of scientific
    laws explaining the physical world
  • Think about the importance of each
  • Europeans discovered two whole continents not
    even known by their Greek and Roman idols the
    size of the world was suddenly twice as large
  • The careful use of a scientific method of
    thinking based on reason led scientists to
    rewrite the structure of the universe, solving
    lots of mysteries that had always puzzled
    humanity
  • Humans now had a nearly perfect understanding of
    all motion on earth and in the heavens
  • Clearly, humans were opening a new era of
    limitless possiblities

5
William Blakes Newton, 1795
6
Post-Renaissance
Pre-Renaissance
7
For Many Europeans, (Impressed by their
Accomplishments), European Social Systems Seemed
Antiquated (old or out-dated)
  • These thinkers wanted to find a Newton for the
    social sciences
  • In other words, a thinker who might unlock the
    secret natural laws of harmonious government
  • This movement was known as the Enlightenment

8
European Governments at the Time of the
Enlightenment Were Primarily Absolute Monarchies
  • The power of these govs came from Divine Right
  • This often seemed random or absurd to thinkers
    familiar with the accomplishments of human reason
    in other fields
  • Examples (you dont have to write these down!)
  • In England, over the space of two hundred years,
    kings were Catholic, then one became a
    Protestant, then his heir became Catholic, then
    Protestant again, then Catholic, then the people
    killed the king because they didnt like him and
    their was a period of military rule, then another
    king took power who was Protestant, then a
    Catholic took over, and then people got rid of
    their king again (without killing him, this time)
    and got a Protestant again.
  • Carlos Hechizado (see pic)
  • So, could God not make up his mind about what
    religion he wanted England to be? Doesnt this
    seem like an absurd way to run society,
    especially a society that can cross the oceans
    and describe the cosmos?
  • Yes.

9
(No Transcript)
10
The Most Famous Enlightenment Thinkers Proposed
Alternative Models
  • Hobbes and Locke both agreed with the Social
    Contract Theory- the idea that governments get
    their power from the people (popular sovereignty)
    rather than from God
  • But they disagreed on the right type of gov.
    under this social contract
  • Hobbes still wanted an absolute king
  • Remember why?
  • Lockes ideas led in the direction of democracy
  • He thought people had natural rights that no gov.
    can take away
  • People have the right of revolution - to
    overthrow a gov. that is not keeping its end of
    the Social Contract
  • Montesquieu was worried that any group given
    power would be likely to abuse it, so he argued
    that power should be divided to provide a check
    on the abuse of power- (checks and balances)
  • Voltaire argued that freedom of speech was the
    best way to keep a government on good behavior
  • If people had the power to criticize the gov.,
    gov. would eventually reform and behave properly

11
Meanwhile, European Colonies Were Developing in
the New World
  • In most places, Native Americans have been
    ravaged by small pox
  • Thus, Europeans in the New World were essentially
    handed (by God, many of them thought) a vast
    amount of land to inhabit
  • Do we see why the Americans were in an
    interesting position to break the traditional
    bonds of European absolutist monarchies?

12
(No Transcript)
13
The British Colonies in North America
  • For much of the early history of the British
    colonies, Britain hadnt taken much interest in
    them
  • They did not seem immediately useful- in the
    earliest colonies, it was a struggle just to stay
    alive
  • There was little to no gold in the British
    colonies- the biggest money-makers were tobacco
    and sugar
  • Slowly, it became clear that in the vastness of
    the new continent, great wealth could be made
  • Britain Began to Take an Increasing Interest
  • But Keep in Mind How Far Away Britain and America
    were in the 18th Century
  • 4-6 week trip by boat
  • If the Indians attack or there is a mob uprising
    in a colonial city, do you contact Britain to
    find out what to do about it?

14
(No Transcript)
15
Does the American Revolution start to seem almost
inevitable at this point?
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