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The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on European Colonies


The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on European Colonies Voltaire Ben Franklin – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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

The Enlightenment and Its Impact on Europe and on
European Colonies
Ben Franklin
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

(you dont need to take notes on this slide!)
Renaissance Art is Often Studied Because it
Demonstrates the Cultural Explosion
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
  • 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

William Blakes Newton, 1795
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

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.

(No Transcript)
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

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?

(No Transcript)
The British Colonies in North America
  • For much of the early history of the British
    colonies, Britain hadnt taken much interest in
  • They did not seem immediately useful- in the
    earliest colonies, it was a struggle just to stay
  • 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?

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