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Brunk 1 Travis Brunk Nathaniel Millett 20 November 2010 History 260-03 Road to War Few events have altered the course of human history as significantly as the American Revolution. It led to the birth to a new nation, gave shape to the first constitutional republic, and caused the rapid spread of liberalism throughout much of the western world. The origins of these different effects can be seen in the various events and mindsets present in the American colonies leading up to the revolutionary war. Prior to the war, there was a growing emphasis on the individual rights of man and the idea of a social contract existing between the government and the governed. Counter to the increase of ideas on personal freedom, new pieces of legislation were passed in England, most of which were seen by the colonists as flagrant violations of their rights as both men, and more importantly, as Englishmen. The American Revolution was the subsequent confrontation that occurred when these intellectual and social changes conflicted with the legislation and actions of the English government in the decades prior to the outbreak of war. While the individual events/legislation and the resulting colonial reactions were the direct cause of the war, it is essential to first understand why it was that the colonists reacted to these events in such a defiant manner. As said before, the 18 th century saw a significant increase to the support of liberal ideas. To be specific, ideas on personal liberties and on equal rights flourished; Brunk 2 freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the rule of law, the social contract, the right to property. All of these ideas, created and endorsed by exceptionally influential personalities such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Locke, and Voltaire, soon became more than just radically fantastic ideas. They became the accepted social and political structure in the American colonies. Its important to recognize that these ideas were not exclusive to the American colonies. In fact, these rights were seen as something uniquely English, both by those in England and by the English colonists. For the first half of the 18th century, these different rights and freedoms and their association with English citizenry led to strong patriotic fervor, reaching a zenith at the conclusion of the French and Indian wars a mere 12 years before the onset of the American revolution. However, in that short time it was decided that King George III and Parliament no longer acted in the best interest of nor protected the rights of the colonists. The colonists saw this to be a breach of the social contract, and with the English government no longer being conducive towards the protection of their rights, it became the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government[one] most likely to effect their safety and happiness. This language, taken from the Declaration of Independence, draws heavily from the works of the aforementioned Enlightenment philosophers. Most early American revolutionary works of the aforementioned Enlightenment philosophers.... View Full Document

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