Enlightenment thinkers played a huge role in creating revolution as an option. These thinkers had strong opinions based on their own ideas on forms of government, and during this time, people began to consider that instead of an absolute government power, perhaps all men were equal and should have a say in government.
John Locke (1632–1704) was an English thinker of the Enlightenment who believed that men are all rational and capable, but must compromise some of their beliefs in the interest of forming a government for the people. In his famous Two Treatises of Government (1680-1690), he supported the idea of a representative government that would best serve all citizens. During this time, the English government approved a new Bill of Rights that established more personal freedoms.
Baron de Montesquieu (1689–1755) was a French thinker of the Enlightenment who wrote The Spirit of Laws, expanding on John Locke’s ideas. Montesquieu believed that the best government was one in which three separate branches of government balanced with equal but different powers. He thought that England provided the best government model in the 18th century because it divided power among three parts: the King, the Parliament, and a Court System. His ideas about the separation of powers became the basis for the U.S. Constitution.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was a Swiss-French thinker of the Enlightenment who had a different view, believing that man was at his best when set free by the conventions of society. Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762) considered a system of direct democracy in which all citizens contribute to a supreme “general will” that serves everyone at once. Rousseau declared that government was meant to promote the common good. He's a big part of why we, when electing officials in America, believe they should uphold the laws, ideals, and virtues of the land.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was an American thinker and politician who wrote...