American Enlightenment

Definition: The American Enlightenment is a term sometimes employed to describe the intellectual culture of the British North American colonies and the early United States (as they became known following the American Revolution). It was a part of a larger intellectual movement known as the Age of Enlightenment. Influenced by the scientific revolution of the 17th century, the Enlightenment took scientific reasoning and applied it to human nature, society and religion. Politically the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon liberty, democracy, republicanism and religious tolerance – culminating in the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence.

  • Historical Events

  • 1752 Benjamin Franklin Conducts his Kite Experiment
  • 1754 Albany Congress( a meeting of representatives of seven of the British North American colonies) proposes that the seven colonies join together.
  • 1758 The Treaty of Easton was signed during the French Indian War.
  • 1763 The French Indian War(7 year war) ended.
  • 1763 They Royal Proclamation was created. The proclamation provided that all lands west of the heads of all rivers which flowed into the Atlantic Ocean from the west or northwest were off-limits to the colonists. This excluded the rich Ohio Valley and all territory from the Ohio to the Mississippi rivers from settlement.
  • 1765 the stamp act was put in action. The tax imposed by the British Parliament on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp.
  • 1767 Townshend Revenue Acts were created. This put taxes on glass,pain,oil,lead,paper, and tea were applied with the design of raising $40,000 a year for the administration of the colonies.
  • 1770 Boston Massacre. Five colonists get shot by the British army.
  • 1773 Boston Tea Party. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.
  • 1775 Revolutionary war begins.

  • New and/or Existing Laws

  • Technological Advances/Inventions

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  • Political and Social Issues

  • During the Enlightenment many people wanted the government to not be a major part of society.
  • Many of the colonists had to deal with the act put on them by British law making them angry at the British government.
  • Economic Status

  • The Economic Status at this time was not very good because during this time they had to pay a lot of taxes on almost everything that they needed.
  • Popular Interests

  • International Relations

  • For the most part the relationships they had with others Countries were good. But there was growing tensions betwen The British due to all of the taxes put on them.
  • Literature and Major Writers

Patrick Henry -
Thomas Jefferson -

Thomas Paine -

  • Other media and artists

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