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The ideals of the american revolution are found in enlightenment thought and colonial experiences?

1.)discuss two ideals of the american revolution that are reflected in enlightenment thought
2.)discuss two colonial experiences thay influenced the ideals of the American rev.
3.)evaluate how American dealt with the issue of slavery and the ideals of the American Revolution.


  1. Have a look at Bernard Bailyn’s ‘The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution’. Not only is it a brilliant book to study when analysing the American Revolution in general but it will provide the answers to all your questions.

  2. Appears to me that you have a textbook which will spell out what IT is looking for, and esp. examples. But perhaps the following will help with getting the first question right — and that is the foundation of the rest:
    a. All people are born with unalienable natural rights (most often summarized as “life, liberty and property”, though the freedom to pursue ‘happiness’ [more about pursuing success, property and such than about ‘feeling good’ of being ‘personally fulfilled’]
    Note: in England and the American colonies the understanding of how these rights work is connected to the tradition of “rights of Englishmen” (not some new creation or discovery of Enlightenment thinkers like Locke), a tradition that had grown up since Magna Carta, and ESPECIALLY the understanding of the 17th century Puritan and Whig politicians and political philosophers.
    Further, the specific ABUSES of the King listed in the Declaration of Independence are connected to these rights. So you might find examples of this belief in “human rights” by linking some of the items in that list with specific episodes and pieces of legislation immediately before the war (e.g., the various “Intolerable Acts”
    b. Government’s power comes from “the CONSENT of the governed” and therefore people have the right to abolish an unjust government.
    Here too it is important to connect such thought with the contribution of 17th century political events, esp. the English Civil War and the “Glorious Revolution”, which was justified on the basis of RIGHTS James II was believed to have violated. (This explains the MANY echoes of the “English Bil of Rights” of 1689 –the official document justifying the Glorious Revolution’s replacement of James II with William and Mary– and both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution… not to mention many other state laws and constitutions, and political pamphlets of the Revolutionary ear.)
    You might consider how the cry “no taxation without representation” builds on this belief (concretely the boycott of “The Stamp Act” through to the boycott on tea because of the duty on it [a boycott that resulted in the Boston Tea Party)
    As Jade has noted, Bailyn’s *Ideological Origins….* is an excellent discussion of these matters — the opening chapter seeks to show how VARIOUS threads came together in the thinking that supported the Revolution (from Enlightenment thinkers and 17th century Whigs to the New England Puritans ideas of “covenant”.)
    Question #3 — again, your textbook (or other class materials) doubtless has something specific in mind… but one place to begin looking is in connection with belief (a) above. And, if possible, consider not just the failures and hypocrisies but ALSO the fact that during the 1780s MOST of the states legislated an end to the slave trade, and many of them set in place plans of emancipation. (In addition, at THIS time the dominant belief even in ‘slave states’ was that slavery was a necessary evil but one that they hoped to see die out. Jefferson even included a strong condemnation of slavery in the original draft of the Declaration, though objections from other Southerners forced the removal of this section.)


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