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Enlightenment Thinkers Impact

Ryan Maziarz

In this paper, I will analyze what Enlightenment thinkers defined the United States
Constitution. During the Enlightenment there were many writers or philosophes that started to
share their thoughts and ideas. This sharing of ideas led to a huge period of time when
governments were changing and the way people lived changed. Our government today used
some ideas from those thinkers in the Enlightenment period. I argue that many Enlightenment
thinkers did play a role in defining the United States Constitution and our government. I will
prove this by explaining who John Locke is and what ideas he gave our country, introducing
Montesquieu and how his ideas were used, and finally describing Voltaire and his ideas and how
they play a role in our lives today. All three of these thinkers were the smartest and most famous
for their time period. They spread their ideas all over the world in hope of inspiring others.
First, I will explain John Locke and what his ideas were and why they were so important
to our government today. He was born on August 29, 1632 in England and died on October 28
1704 in England. He was among the most famous philosophers and political theorists. He had an
optimistic view on society and felt that everyone in a free state were basically reasonable and
moral. John Locke fought for natural rights and the idea that everyone has rights from their birth.
He fought for liberty, and property. He is most known for his limited government which
Iep.utm.edu does a good job of explaining by saying, He uses a theory of natural rights to argue
that governments have obligations to their citizens, and have only limited powers over their
citizens, and can ultimately be overthrown by citizens under certain circumstances. We used his
ideas of liberty and freedom in our constitution, and it is what we fight for now. Our government

also has limited the restriction it puts on people and gives us more freedoms. This proves how
John Locke has influenced our government and the United States Constitution.
Next, I will explain who Montesquieu is and how his ideas are used in our government
today. He was born on January 18, 1689 in France and died on February 10 1755 in France, and
his full name is Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu. He was a
French political philosopher who wrote admiringly about Britains limited monarchy. His idea
was that he felt that the British protected themselves against tyranny by introducing the three
branches of government; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Montesquieu introduced these
branches because he too fought for liberty and felt this was the best way to protect the rights of
liberty and to keep the government from having too much power for one person. Britannica.com
explains his views as, The theory of the separation of powers, is treated differently. Dividing
political authority into the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, he asserted that, in the state
that most effectively promotes liberty, these three powers must be confided to different
individuals or bodies, acting independently. These three branches of government are our
backbone, we use them still today. We were built off this idea because the early US did not want
one person to have too much power over everyone. This demonstrates how much of
Montesquieus ideas are used today.
Finally, I will introduce Voltaire and what made his ideas so influential. He was born on
November 21, 1694 in Paris and died on May 30, 1778 in Paris, and his real name was FrancoisMarie Arouet. Voltaire is most known for targeting corrupt officials and aristocrats in France. He
manly battles inequality, injustice, and superstition. Voltaire was also offended both the French
Government and the church and was punished a few times because of this. Biography.com does a
good job of explain these punishments, In 1715, Voltaire was exiled to Tulle for mocking the

regent Orleans. In 1717, he returned to Paris, only to be arrested and exiled to the Bastille for a
year on charges of writing libelous poetry. Voltaire was sent to the Bastille again in 1726, for
arguing with the Chevalier de Rohan (Guy Auguste de Rohan-Chabot). He also defended the
idea of freedom of speech. In the constitution today we have freedom of speech and we it is one
of the most important rules that our country has to follow. Our Constitution as well as our
government used Voltaires ideas of freedom of speech and equality.
In conclusion, many great and influential thinker came from the Enlightenment era, and
their ideas helped mold not only our government, but governments all over the world. In this
essay I analyzed which Enlightenment thinkers influenced our Constitution and our government.
I proved this by explaining which three I felt were the most influential; Locke, Montesquieu, and
Voltaire. I first described Locke and his ideas about natural rights and how everyone is born with
certain rights. Next I wrote about Montesquieu and his idea of the three branches of government
that we use today. These branches are our backbone and this is what we base everything off of.
Finally I introduced Voltaire and his views on freedom of speech and inequality. All of these
thinker played a huge role in creating our constitution, the rules we live by, and the government
as a whole.