Enlightenment inspired the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Tea taxes encouraged our leaders to take a stand against the British, and the Quartering Act forced our leaders to look for whatever scrapes they could find in order to stay alive.
Thomas Jefferson, widely regarded as the brilliant, industrious, and witty founding father who laid the groundwork for America’s independence from Britain, drafted a letter to King George III explaining their reasons for going to war. The Declaration of Independence was actually a letter to the king stating the principles and reasons for rebellion in the colonies.
Jefferson, who was also the main author of the Declaration, was only 33 at this time. He had been influenced by British acts such as the Tea Taxes and the Quartering Act, but far more significant were the ideas about government discussed by Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke. Locke’s theories about legitimacy coming from those it governs and its duty to protect people’s rights all found their way into the document along with more thoughts about taxes on foreign goods and obedience to British rule without representation.
The Enlightenment philosophers of Jefferson’s time thought that the solution to society’s problems was to re-examine and overturn European systems of government. One of these writers, John Locke, believed that all people have the same rights as one. It is not based on their class or station in life. Those rights include life, liberty, and property. No, the state can take those rights away from you because they are natural to your birthright.
The Declaration of Independence was one of the first documents in history that are still important today. It embodies the values and ideals of the Enlightenment, including egalitarianism and self-determination. The Declaration makes many references to the Age of Enlightenment, but also includes a long list of grievances against King George III.
After the Townshend Tax, many colonists had had enough. When the Tea Act was imposed in 1773, it marked the end of their rope for what they perceived as unfair taxation by the British. In spite of the tea tax imposed during this act not being new, it brought back thoughts of taxation that colonists had long been fighting against.
In the 1760s, the British passed laws to stop colonial inputs in trade. The colonists saw the laws as another way for the British to control them and refused to cooperate with these laws. Among those reasons listed in Article V of the Tea Act was: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, allowing the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States.”
The Quartering Clause, which was enacted in 1765, is one of the reasons why there was such tension between the British and colonial communities. The colonist’s also had to provide soldiers with several items, including candles, firewood, bedding, cooking utensils, salt, and vinegar.
As the colonies became more and more unhappy with the tax increases imposed by England, the colonists protested: We protest that we are no more like taxes than heat or light. One of the most poignant parts of the Declaration of Independence was its opening sentence: “He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without our consent.” This meant many colonists felt they had no voice in their government and were forced to accept the presence of soldiers on their property.”
Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is a declaration of independence that explains the injustices and reasons why the colonists sought independence. This document was heavily inspired by the Enlightenment, which promoted new ideas about how people should think about government structures, natural rights, and ways to overcome adversity of all kinds — such as objective truth. The text talks about how people are endowed with rights just because they are human and cannot have their natural rights taken from them by any other entity.
The idea of personal freedom was a promise made to all citizens by the new government, which relied on the belief that people had a right to voice their opinion. The Enlightenment ideas did not go unnoticed in shaping the Constitution and becoming the foundation for this new country.
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