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.
It’s 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