While researching the American Enlightenment Movement, I found that although historians talk more about the French thinker's role in the revolution, it was actually four American rulers who left a mark in history. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison all used their knowledge to come up with ways to better America. When Napoleon Bonaparte, a ruler in France, stepped down from his position, people turned to the American views to escape the corruption in Europe. My goal in this paper is to show the connection between the American Enlightenment Movement and four major American leaders.
The Age of Reason or the Age of Enlightenment began in the eighteenth century, although many historic events happened between 1715 and 1789. Thinkers in the United States and British North America adopted strong political and religious views that greatly influenced the American Revolution. The thought behind the Age of Reason was intelligent leaders could convince people to change the way they see things and adopt their ideas. Those leaders decided it was a reasonable way to create a better society. .
During this enlightenment period, the most commonly heard French philosophers were John Locke, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, Baron Montesquieu, Denis Diderot, and others. They discarded traditional beliefs and began to use reason to explain the world around them. Hobbes based his theories on the government on his beliefs than men were greedy, selfish, and cruel. Locke believed that people could be reasonable and moral. Voltaire thought freedom of speech was the best weapon against a bad government. A few American leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison also greatly inspired people's thinking as well as making it known that their beliefs differentiated from the European philosopher's beliefs. They often judged and criticized their opponent's opinions and suggestions.