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Analyze how the Enlightenment Philosophers Influenced the Formation of the United States

Government
Kara Yoest

Have you ever wondered how the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence came

to be? It was not just one single person who came up with these laws. It was several

Enlightenment philosophers who had major impacts on both of the documents. Philosophers

such as Franois-Marie Arouet Voltaire and John Locke helped to shape our country through

these documents. Voltaire believed that people had a right to freedom of speech and freedom of

religion. Locke believed that all humans were born good and could learn from experience and

improve themselves. If it was not for these philosophers who influenced our founding fathers,

our government would not be the same today.

On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written when the United States

established its independence from Britain. Mrnussbaum.com states that The main purpose of the

Declaration of Independence was to explain to foreign nations why the colonies had chosen to

separate themselves from Great Britain. It was written to show the unalienable natural rights of

humans. John Locke greatly impacted the formation of the Declaration of Independence with his

expression of the radical views that the government is morally obliged to serve people, namely

by protecting life, liberty, and property. He described the principle of checks and balances to

limit government power. Voltaire influenced the line all men are created equal within the

Declaration of Independence. His writings allowed others to see the injustice of slave trade and

religious prejudice.

After the United States gained its freedom from Britain, we created the Constitution.

Both, the Constitution and the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights state that man has a right to

freedom of speech. Newyorker.com states that Back before the Constitution enshrined the
principle of free speech in the very First Amendment, the French writer, wit, and philosopher

Voltaire said, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say

it. Voltaire was a staunch supporter of the freedom of speech, which is especially emphasized by

the American Constitution. His belief in religion and freedom from government influenced the 1st

Amendment to the Constitution. The 1st Amendment of the United States states that it protects

citizens from having their government dictate religious practices. Other philosophers such as

John Locke and Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu greatly impacted the Constitution.

Locke thought it was necessary for a country to thrive and flourish, and without the people, the

country would perish and fall. Also, his ideas of a people-run government had a huge impact on

not only the Constitution, but the Declaration as well. Montesquieu created ideas about a need

for separation of powers and wrote of the judicial, executive, and legislative branches which

the US still employs to this day.

In conclusion, philosophes such as Locke and Voltaire helped to shape our country

through documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Locke and

Voltaire were the most influential philosophes in these two documents that established our

country. These documents still positively impact our lives today. If it were not for these

philosophes, our country would be immensely different today. Issues such as our rights or

amendments would be very different. They helped to lay the foundation for what we practice

today. Long before our declaration was in place, these men were laying the groundwork for

modern day rights.