Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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The Enlightenment brought upon the French and American Revolutions, in many ways. People are influenced greatly by the things that others say and do. In this sense the French and American Revolutions were greatly affected by the Enlightenment thinkers and ideas.

John Locke, a European Philosopher, held a different perspective on human nature. Locke believed that all individuals had the power of self-government, saying that all citizens were reasonable beings that had the natural ability to govern their own affairs and to look after the welfare of society. In Locke's theory all people are born free and equal, with the right to life, liberty and property. These three rights were known as the Natural Rights of Man, and would spark new feelings and dreams which would in turn ignite the flames of the revolution. Locke stated that the sole purpose of a government was to protect these simple rights, and if an unjust ruler or government should come between a man and his natural rights it is their duty to overthrow it.

Locke's theories would be published for the masses and these pieces of literature would serve to justify the overthrow of James II. John Locke had a deep impact on society and the structure of government his ideas would inspire struggles for liberty for years to come.

Baron de Montesquieu was a French writer devote to the study of political liberty. Montesquieu believed that the best form of government was that of a well-balanced one. This separation of power into branches insured that not one party could become too powerful and gain total control, this idea was known as "checks and balances." Some forms of government did not have these restrictions on power and as a result Monarchs and other political leaders could be come overwhelmingly powerful and...