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Josh Howard

Mr. Warwick

Honors World History

April 18, 2018

The influence Enlightenment thinkers had on our government

The period of Enlightenment was a time when people began to realize that there is a more

efficient and fair way of government than a dictatorship. Enlightenment thinkers broke down the

core of government to find out what was the most fair and effective way to run it. The American

revolution was when the British colonies located in modern-day America revolted against their

dictator and declared independence. This led to the creation of our modern-day government

which was influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers John Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu.

John Locke was an Enlightenment thinker who believed in the idea that all humans were born

with natural rights. These natural rights consist of the right to life, liberty and property. The

United States government was made with ideas from Locke. In the Bill of Rights amendment 5 it

describes how no one should have their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness taken away. This

reflects perfectly with what Locke believed in. In the Declaration of Independence paragraph 2 it

States that people are born with unalienable rights and those rights are life, liberty, and property.

In the Declaration of Independence paragraph 3 it states that military personnel should not be

quartered in civilians houses which gives people the right to property to the people. Therefore the

United States government was built upon many of John Locke's ideas.

Voltaire is also a high-level thinker focusing on his ideas of freedom of speech, religion, and

press. In the Bill of Rights Amendment 1 it states that the government cannot make laws against

certain religions or against freedom of speech this is exactly what Voltaire would want in an
ideal government. Likewise in the Bill of Rights Amendment 2 it gives the citizens the right to

bear arms, or allowed to have guns which correlates directly with Voltaire's belief in Freedom. In

the United States Constitution Article 6 it states that employers cannot discriminate against

religion which is exactly what Voltaire believed in due to the fact that he strongly agreed with

the freedom of religion, speech, and press. Concluding that Voltaire was very influential in many

official United States articles.

Montesquieu was a strong believer in that a government should not be ruled by one single

power but instead by three separate powers consisting of an executive, legislative, and judicial

branch. In the United States Constitution Article 1 Section 1 it states that the legislative branch

or congress should be split up into a Senate and a House of Representatives. Doing so would

separate the powers even further which would eliminate the chance of there being one main

power. Similarly in the United States Constitution Article 1 Section 1 it states that the president

can only serve a maximum of 8 years which consists of two four-year terms. This prevents one

ruler from being in power for an over extended period of time. Likewise in the United States

Constitution article 3 section 1 it states that the Supreme Court is the most powerful court and

interprets the laws when the lower courts cannot decide. This prevents misinterpretations of laws

so that if there is not an agreement in a local court then the decision will be moved up towards

the Supreme Court. This in turn separates the power so that the lawmakers cannot change their

interpretation of the law to suit their needs which would create fairness on everyone. In

conclusion Montesquieu heavily influenced the separation of powers that we see in our

government today.

John Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu influenced the creation of the United States

government including the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States
Constitution. This establishes the important of the period of Enlightenment, due to the fact that it

essentially formed our early and modern-day government. Many things that we believe in today

derived from the Enlightenment thinkers such as our belief of freedom of speech, freedom of

religion, separation of powers, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.