American Enlightenment

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American Enlightenment
1732–1845
Thomas Paine.jpg
Including American philosophy
Preceded by European Enlightenment
Followed by American Revolution
Leader(s) Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington

The American Enlightenment was a period of intellectual ferment in the thirteen American colonies in the 17th to 18th century, which led to the American Revolution, and the creation of the United States of America. The American Enlightenment was influenced by the 17th-century European Enlightenment and its own native American philosophy. According to James MacGregor Burns, the spirit of the American Enlightenment was to give Enlightenment ideals a practical, useful form in the life of the nation and its people. [1]

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.

American Revolution Colonial revolt in which the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".

Contents

The Enlightenment applied scientific reasoning to politics, science, and religion. It promoted religious tolerance and restored literature, arts, and music as important disciplines worthy of study in colleges. "New-model" American style colleges were founded such as King's College New York (now Columbia University), and the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania). Yale College and the College of William & Mary were reformed. A non-denominational moral philosophy replaced theology in many college curricula. Even Puritan colleges such as the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and Harvard University reformed their curricula to include natural philosophy (science), modern astronomy, and mathematics.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Among the foremost representatives of the American Enlightenment were presidents of colleges, including Puritan religious leaders Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Clap, and Ezra Stiles, and Anglican moral philosophers Samuel Johnson and William Smith. The leading political thinkers were John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Paine, George Mason, James Wilson, Ethan Allen, and Alexander Hamilton, and polymaths Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Leading scientists included Benjamin Franklin for his work on electricity, William Smith for his organization and observations of the Transit of Venus, Jared Eliot for his work in metallurgy and agriculture, the astronomer David Rittenhouse in astronomy, math, and instruments, Benjamin Rush in medical science, Charles Willson Peale in natural history, and Cadwallader Colden for his work in botany and town sanitation. Colden's daughter, Jane Colden, was the first female botanist working in America. Count Rumford was a leading scientist, especially in the field of heat.

Jonathan Edwards (theologian) Christian preacher, philosopher, and theologian

Jonathan Edwards was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Edwards is widely regarded as one of the America's most important and original philosophical theologians. Edwards' theological work is broad in scope, but he was rooted in Reformed theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage. Recent studies have emphasized how thoroughly Edwards grounded his life's work on conceptions of beauty, harmony, and ethical fittingness, and how central The Enlightenment was to his mindset. Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts. His theological work gave rise to a distinct school of theology known as the New England theology.

Thomas Clap or Thomas Clapp was an American academic and educator, a Congregational minister, and college administrator. He was both the fifth rector and the earliest official to be called "president" of Yale College (1740–1766). He is best known for his successful reform of Yale in the 1740s, partnering with the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson to restructure the forty-year-old institution along more modern lines. He convinced the Connecticut Assembly to exempt Yale from paying taxes. He opened a second college house and doubled the size of the college; Yale graduated more students than Harvard beginning in 1756. He introduced Enlightenment math and science and Johnson's moral philosophy into the curriculum, while retaining its Puritan theology. He also helped found the Linonian Society in 1753, a literary and debating society and one of Yale's oldest secret societies. He personally built the first Orrery in America, a milestone of American science, and awarded his friend Benjamin Franklin an honorary degree.

Ezra Stiles American theologian, clergyman, Yale President

Ezra Stiles was an American academic and educator, a Congregationalist minister, theologian and author. He was seventh president of Yale College (1778–1795), and one of the founders of Brown University.

Terminology

The term "American Enlightenment" was coined in the post-World War II era. It was not used in the eighteenth century when English speakers commonly referred to a process of becoming "enlightened." [2] [3]

Dates

Various dates for the American Enlightenment have been proposed, including the dates 1750–1820, [4] 1765–1815, [5] and 1688–1815. [6] One more precise start date proposed [7] is the date a collection of Enlightenment books by Colonial Agent Jeremiah Dummer were donated into the library of the small college of Yale at Saybrook Point, Connecticut on or just after October 15, 1714. They were received by a young post-graduate student Samuel Johnson, of Guilford, Connecticut, who studied them. He found that they contradicted all his hard-learned Puritan learning. He wrote that, "All this was like a flood of day to his low state of mind", [8] and that "he found himself like one at once emerging out of the glimmer of twilight into the full sunshine of open day". Two years later in 1716 as a Yale Tutor, Johnson introduced a new curriculum into Yale using the donated Dummer books. He offered what he called "The New Learning", [9] which included the works and ideas of Francis Bacon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Boyle, Copernicus, and literary works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Addison. Enlightenment ideas were introduced to the colonists and diffused through Puritan educational and religious networks especially through Yale College in 1718. [10]

A colonial agent was the official representative of one of the Thirteen American Colonies in London in the period before 1775. About 200 men served. They were selected and paid a fixed salary by the colonial government, and given the long delays in communication, they played a major role in negotiating with royal officials, and explaining colonial needs and resources. Their main business was with the Board of Trade, where the agent dealt with land problems, border disputes, military affairs, and Indian affairs. They provided the British officials with the documents and news, secured acceptance of controversial colonial legislation, and tried to head off policies objectionable to the colonies. They handled the appeal cases, which usually went to the Privy Council. Before 1700 a colony would send occasional special agents on a temporary basis. Thus Rhode Island sent John Clarke in 1660 to secure a Royal charter; it took two years, and then he returned. Permanent agents became the practice after 1700; most were Americans but some were British. Many of the agents worked together 1730-1733 to oppose a bill establishing a monopoly in West Indian rum, sugar and molasses.

Jeremiah Dummer New England colonial agent

Jeremiah Dummer was an important colonial figure for New England in the early 18th century. His most significant contributions to American history were his A Defense of the New England Charters and his role in the formation of Yale College.

Old Saybrook, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Old Saybrook is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 10,242 at the 2010 census. It contains the incorporated borough of Fenwick, as well as the census-designated places of Old Saybrook Center and Saybrook Manor.

Religious tolerance

Enlightened Founding Fathers, especially Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington, fought for and eventually attained religious freedom for minority denominations. According to the founding fathers, the United States should be a country where peoples of all faiths could live in peace and mutual benefit. James Madison summed up this ideal in 1792 saying, "Conscience is the most sacred of all property." [11]

Benjamin Franklin American polymath and a Founding Father of the United States

Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of the United States

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

James Madison 4th president of the United States

James Madison Jr. was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the United States Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights. He also co-wrote The Federalist Papers, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party, and served as the fifth United States secretary of State from 1801 to 1809.

A switch away from established religion to religious tolerance was one of the distinguishing features of the era from 1775 to 1818. The passage of the new Connecticut Constitution on October 5, 1818, overturned the 180-year-old "Standing Order" and The Connecticut Charter of 1662, whose provisions dated back to the founding of the state in 1638 and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut; it has been proposed as a date for the triumph if not the end of the American Enlightenment:). [12] The new constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, and disestablished the Congregational church.

Intellectual currents

Between 1714 and 1818 a great intellectual change took place that changed the British Colonies of America from a distant backwater into a leader in the fields of moral philosophy, educational reform, religious revival, industrial technology, science, and, most notably, political philosophy. It saw a consensus on a "pursuit of happiness" based political philosophy.

Architecture

After 1780, the Federal-style of American Architecture began to diverge from the Georgian style and became a uniquely American genre; in 1813, the American architect Ithiel Town designed and in 1814–1816 built the first Gothic Style church in North America, Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, predating the English Gothic revival by a decade. In the fields of literature, poetry, music, and drama some nascent artistic attempts were made, particularly in pre-war Philadelphia, but American (non-popular) culture in these fields was largely imitative of British culture for most of the period and is generally considered not very distinguished.

Republicanism

Politically, the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon economic liberty, republicanism and religious tolerance, as clearly expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence. Attempts to reconcile science and religion resulted in a rejection of prophecy, miracle, and revealed religion, resulting in an inclination toward deism among some major political leaders of the age. American republicanism emphasized consent of the governed, riddance of the aristocracy, and fear of corruption. It represented the convergence of classical republicanism and English republicanism (of 17th century Commonwealthmen and 18th century English Country Whigs). [13]

J.G.A. Pocock explained the intellectual sources in America: [14]

The Whig canon and the neo-Harringtonians, John Milton, James Harrington and Sidney, Trenchard, Gordon and Bolingbroke, together with the Greek, Roman, and Renaissance masters of the tradition as far as Montesquieu, formed the authoritative literature of this culture; and its values and concepts were those with which we have grown familiar: a civic and patriot ideal in which the personality was founded on property, perfected in citizenship but perpetually threatened by corruption; government figuring paradoxically as the principal source of corruption and operating through such means as patronage, faction, standing armies (opposed to the ideal of the militia); established churches (opposed to the Puritan and deist modes of American religion); and the promotion of a monied interest—though the formulation of this last concept was somewhat hindered by the keen desire for readily available paper credit common in colonies of settlement.

European sources

Sources of the American Enlightenment are many and vary according to time and place. As a result of an extensive book trade with Great Britain, the colonies were well acquainted with European literature almost contemporaneously. Early influences were English writers, including James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, the Viscount Bolingbroke, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (especially the two's Cato's Letters), and Joseph Addison (whose tragedy Cato was extremely popular). A particularly important English legal writer was Sir William Blackstone, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England served as a major influence on the American Founders and is a key source in the development Anglo-American common law. Although John Locke's Two Treatises of Government has long been cited as a major influence on American thinkers, historians David Lundberg and Henry F. May demonstrate that Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding was far more widely read than were his political Treatises. [15]

The Scottish Enlightenment also influenced American thinkers. David Hume's Essays and his History of England were widely read in the colonies, [16] and Hume's political thought had a particular influence on James Madison and the Constitution. [17] Another important Scottish writer was Francis Hutcheson. Hutcheson's ideas of ethics, along with notions of civility and politeness developed by the Earl of Shaftesbury, and Addison and Richard Steele in their Spectator , were a major influence on upper-class American colonists who sought to emulate European manners and learning.

By far the most important French sources to the American Enlightenment, however, were Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws and Emer de Vattel's Law of Nations . Both informed early American ideas of government and were major influences on the Constitution. Voltaire's histories were widely read but seldom cited. Rousseau's influence was marginal. Noah Webster used Rousseau's educational ideas of child development to structure his famous Speller. A German influence includes Samuel Pufendorf, whose writings were also commonly cited by American writers.

Liberalism and republicanism

Since the 1960s, historians have debated the Enlightenment's role in the American Revolution. Before 1960 the consensus was that liberalism, especially that of John Locke, was paramount; republicanism was largely ignored. [18] The new interpretations were pioneered by J.G.A. Pocock who argued in The Machiavellian Moment (1975) that, at least in the early eighteenth-century, republican ideas were just as important as liberal ones. Pocock's view is now widely accepted. [19] Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood pioneered the argument that the Founding Fathers of the United States were more influenced by republicanism than they were by liberalism. Cornell University Professor Isaac Kramnick, on the other hand, argues that Americans have always been highly individualistic and therefore Lockean. [20]

In the decades before the American Revolution (1776), the intellectual and political leaders of the colonies studied history intently, looking for guides or models for good (and bad) government. They especially followed the development of republican ideas in England. [21] Pocock explained the intellectual sources in the United States:

The Whig canon and the neo-Harringtonians, John Milton, James Harrington and Sidney, Trenchard, Gordon and Bolingbroke, together with the Greek, Roman, and Renaissance masters of the tradition as far as Montesquieu, formed the authoritative literature of this culture; and its values and concepts were those with which we have grown familiar: a civic and patriot ideal in which the personality was founded on property, perfected in citizenship but perpetually threatened by corruption; government figuring paradoxically as the principal source of corruption and operating through such means as patronage, faction, standing armies (opposed to the ideal of the militia), established churches (opposed to the Puritan and deist modes of American religion) and the promotion of a monied interest—though the formulation of this last concept was somewhat hindered by the keen desire for readily available paper credit common in colonies of settlement. A neoclassical politics provided both the ethos of the elites and the rhetoric of the upwardly mobile, and accounts for the singular cultural and intellectual homogeneity of the Founding Fathers and their generation. [22]

The commitment of most Americans to these republican values made inevitable the American Revolution, for Britain was increasingly seen as corrupt and hostile to republicanism, and a threat to the established liberties the Americans enjoyed. [23]

Leopold von Ranke, a leading German historian, in 1848 claims that American republicanism played a crucial role in the development of European liberalism:

By abandoning English constitutionalism and creating a new republic based on the rights of the individual, the North Americans introduced a new force in the world. Ideas spread most rapidly when they have found adequate concrete expression. Thus republicanism entered our Romanic/Germanic world... Up to this point, the conviction had prevailed in Europe that monarchy best served the interests of the nation. Now the idea spread that the nation should govern itself. But only after a state had actually been formed on the basis of the theory of representation did the full significance of this idea become clear. All later revolutionary movements have this same goal... This was the complete reversal of a principle. Until then, a king who ruled by the grace of God had been the center around which everything turned. Now the idea emerged that power should come from below... These two principles are like two opposite poles, and it is the conflict between them that determines the course of the modern world. In Europe the conflict between them had not yet taken on concrete form; with the French Revolution it did. [24]

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

Many historians [25] find that the origin of this famous phrase derives from Locke's position that "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." [26] Others suggest that Jefferson took the phrase from Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. [27] Others note that William Wollaston's 1722 book The Religion of Nature Delineated describes the "truest definition" of "natural religion" as being "The pursuit of happiness by the practice of reason and truth." [28]

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was written by George Mason and adopted by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776, a few days before Jefferson's draft, in part, reads:

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily written by Jefferson, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Deism

Both the Moderate Enlightenment and a Radical or Revolutionary Enlightenment were reactions against the authoritarianism, irrationality, and obscurantism of the established churches. Philosophers such as Voltaire depicted organized Religion as hostile to the development of reason and the progress of science and incapable of verification.

An alternative religion was deism, the philosophical belief in a deity based on reason, rather than religious revelation or dogma. It was a popular perception among the philosophes, who adopted deistic attitudes to varying degrees. Deism greatly influenced the thought of intellectuals and Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, perhaps George Washington and, especially, Thomas Jefferson. [29] The most articulate exponent was Thomas Paine, whose The Age of Reason was written in France in the early 1790s, and soon reached the United States. Paine was highly controversial; when Jefferson was attacked for his deism in the 1800 election, Democratic-Republican politicians took pains to distance their candidate from Paine. [30] Unitarianism and Deism were strongly connected, the former being brought to America by Joseph Priestley, the oxygen scientist. Doctor Samuel Johnson called Lord Edward Herbert the "father of English Deism".

See also

Related Research Articles

Deism is the philosophical belief which posits that although God exists as the uncaused First Cause – ultimately responsible for the creation of the universe – God does not interact directly with that subsequently created world. Equivalently, deism can also be defined as the view which asserts God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits its perfection but rejects divine revelation or direct intervention of God in the universe by miracles. It also rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a single creator or absolute principle of the universe.

John Locke English philosopher and physician

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Political philosophy sub-discipline of philosophy and political science

Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Republicanism is a representative form of government organization. It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different definitions and interpretations which vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.

Thomas Paine English and American political activist

Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian Saul K. Padover described him as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination". Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel.

<i>The Age of Reason</i> English-language compilation of deistic pamphlets by Thomas Paine; accuses that the Christian Church is corrupt, rejects miracles and the sanctity of the Bible, promotes natural religion and argues for a creator-god and reason in favor of revelation

The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a work by English and American political activist Thomas Paine, arguing for the philosophical position of Deism. It follows in the tradition of eighteenth-century British deism, and challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible. It was published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807.

Natural and legal rights are two types of rights. Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are universal and inalienable Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system.

Classical republicanism, also known as civic republicanism or civic humanism, is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity, especially such classical writers as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero. Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed government.

Republicanism in the United States Political philosophy of individual liberty and representative democracy

Modern republicanism is a guiding political philosophy of the United States that has been a major part of American civic thought since its founding. It stresses liberty and unalienable individual rights as central values, making people sovereign as a whole; rejects monarchy, aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be virtuous and faithful in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption. American republicanism was articulated and first practiced by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century. For them, "republicanism represented more than a particular form of government. It was a way of life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, and a total rejection of aristocracy."

A Christian republic is a government that is both Christian and republican. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke considered the idea to be an impossibility and a self-contradiction, but for different reasons. As of the 21st century, the only countries in the world with a republican form of government and with Christianity as the established religion are Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland and Malta.

The Commonwealth men, Commonwealth's men, or Commonwealth Party were highly outspoken British Protestant religious, political, and economic reformers during the early 18th century. They were active in the movement called the Country Party. They promoted republicanism and had a great influence on Republicanism in the United States, but little impact in Britain.

John Greville Agard Pocock is a historian of political thought from New Zealand. He is especially known for his studies of republicanism in the early modern period, his work on the history of English common law, his treatment of Edward Gibbon and other Enlightenment historians, and, in historical method, for his contributions to the history of political discourse.

A scholar of the history of British political discourse, J. G. A. Pocock, the Harry C. Black Chair of History Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, has enjoyed over 60 years of publication. Now in his tenth decade, he recently concluded Barbarism and Religion, a six-volume study of Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The first two volumes of B&R were awarded the American Philosophical Society's Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History for the year 1999.

Religious views of Thomas Jefferson

The religious views of Thomas Jefferson diverged widely from the orthodox Christianity of his era. Throughout his life, Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, religious studies, and morality. Jefferson was most comfortable with Deism, rational religion, and Unitarianism. He was sympathetic to and in general agreement with the moral precepts of Christianity. He considered the teachings of Jesus as having "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man," yet he held that the pure teachings of Jesus appeared to have been appropriated by some of Jesus' early followers, resulting in a Bible that contained both "diamonds" of wisdom and the "dung" of ancient political agendas.

American philosophy

American philosophy is the activity, corpus, and tradition of philosophers affiliated with the United States. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that while it lacks a "core of defining features, American Philosophy can nevertheless be seen as both reflecting and shaping collective American identity over the history of the nation."

Scottish common sense realism

Scottish Common Sense Realism, also known as the Scottish School of Common Sense, is a realist school of philosophy that originated in the ideas of Scottish philosophers Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, James Beattie, and Dugald Stewart during the 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment. Reid emphasized man's innate ability to perceive common ideas and that this process is inherent in and interdependent with judgement. Common sense therefore, is the foundation of philosophical inquiry. Though best remembered for its opposition to the pervasive philosophy of David Hume, Scottish Common Sense philosophy is influential and evident in the works of Thomas Jefferson and late 18th-century American politics.

Revolutionary republic

A revolutionary republic is a form of government whose main tenets are popular sovereignty, rule of law, and representative democracy. It is based in part on the ideas of Whig and Enlightenment thinkers, and was favored by revolutionaries during the Age of Revolution. A revolutionary republic tends to arise from the formation of a provisional government after the overthrow of an existing state and political regime. It often takes the form of a revolutionary state, which represents the will of its constituents.

The Religion of Nature Delineated is a book by Anglican cleric William Wollaston that describes a system of ethics that can be discerned without recourse to revealed religion. It was first published in 1722, two years before Wollaston's death. Due to its influence on eighteenth-century philosophy and his promotion of a Natural Religion, the book claims for Wollaston a ranking as one of the great British Enlightenment philosophers, along with John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. It contributed to the development of two important intellectual schools: British Deism, and the pursuit of happiness moral philosophy of American Practical Idealism which appears in the Declaration of Independence.

References

  1. Burns, James MacGregor (2013). Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World. Macmillan. p. 132. ISBN   978-1-250-02490-9.
  2. Caroline Winterer, American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason, Yale University Press, 2016
  3. Winterer, What Was the American Enlightenment? in The Worlds of American Intellectual History, eds. Joel Isaac, James Kloppenberg, and Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, Oxford University Press, 2016
  4. Ferguson Robert A., The American Enlightenment, 1750–1820, Harvard University Press, 1994
  5. Adrienne Koch, referenced by Woodward, C. Vann, The Comparative Approach to American History, Oxford University Press, 1997
  6. Henry F. May, referenced by Byrne, James M., Religion and the Enlightenment: From Descartes to Kant, Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, p. 50
  7. Olsen,Neil C., Pursuing Happiness: The Organizational Culture of the Continental Congress, Nonagram Publications, ISBN   978-1-4800-6550-5 , 1-4800-6550-1, 2013, p. 145
  8. Johnson, Samuel, and Schneider, Herbert, Samuel Johnson, President of King's College; His Career and Writings, editors Herbert and Carol Schneider, New York: Columbia University Press, 1929, Volume 1, p. 7
  9. Johnson and Schneider
  10. Joseph J. Ellis, The New England Mind in Transition: Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, 1696–1772, Yale University Press, 1973, Chapter II and p. 45
  11. Bryan-Paul Frost and Jeffrey Sikkenga, History of American political thought (2003) p. 152
  12. Olsen, p. 16
  13. Linda K. Kerber, "The Republican Ideology of the Revolutionary Generation," pp. 474–95 in JSTOR
  14. J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment p. 507
  15. See David Lundberg and Henry F. May, "The Enlightened Reader in America," American Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2 (1976): 267.
  16. See Mark G. Spencer, David Hume and Eighteenth-Century America (2005).
  17. See Douglass Adair, "'That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science': David Hume, James Madison, and the Tenth Federalist," Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4 (1957): 343–60; and Mark G. Spencer, "Hume and Madison on Faction," The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., vol. 59, no. 4 (2002): 869–96.
  18. See for example, Vernon L. Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought (1927) online at
  19. Shalhope (1982)
  20. Isaac Kramnick, Ideological Background," in Jack. P. Greene and J.R. Pole, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (1994) ch. 9; Robert E. Shallhope, "Republicanism," ibid ch. 70.
  21. Colbourn, H. Trevor (1974). The lamp of experience: Whig history and the intellectual origins of the American Revolution. New York: Norton; [published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Va. ISBN   9780393007145.
  22. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment p. 507
  23. Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967)
  24. Adams, Willi Paul (2001). The First American Constitutions: Republican Ideology and the Making of the State Constitutions in the Revolutionary Era. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 128–29.
  25. J. R. Pole, The pursuit of equality in American history (1978) p. 9
  26. Locke, John (1690). Two Treatises of Government (10th edition). Project Gutenberg . Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  27. Paul Sayre, ed., Interpretations of modern legal philosophies (1981) p. 189
  28. James W. Ely, Main themes in the debate over property rights (1997) p. 28
  29. Sanford, Charles B. The Religious Life of Thomas Jefferson (1987) University of Virginia Press, ISBN   0-8139-1131-1
  30. Eric Foner, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1977) p. 257

Further reading

Biographies

Academic studies

Historiography

Primary sources