The enlightenment and the great awakening

Essay by jenniferraeharrisCollege, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening were two powerful movements during the late 17th century and early 18th century. They brought about a new interest in the sciences, education and literature, as well as an increased reliance on religious direction. These two movements combined led Colonial Americans the ability to challenge current leaders by providing alternative ways of looking at the world and religion. They began to look elsewhere for guidance and leadership. This was a time for them to question the current leadership and rules. Without these two combined movements the United States would most likely not be the independent democracy that it is today.

The Enlightenment started in Europe and spread to Colonial America almost a hundred years later. During this time people were encouraged to use reason to question their current situations. Science, education, and literature were used to inspire people to promote progress. Great thinkers during this time believed that there were natural laws that governed the world.

The Enlightenment also inspired some religious leaders to have a more open view of religion and people began to think that salvation from God was for everyone not just a chosen group. This change in the established religious views allowed Colonial Americans to question if the King was really a leader chosen by God.

Along with the Enlightenment, the Great Awakening had a major effect on Americans in the Colonies. In the 1730s the Reverend Jonathan Edwards started a movement. He realized that traditional religion was focusing on wealthy families and there were a large number of people that were falling away from organized religion. He felt they needed to be reached and held revivals outdoors and outside of the church. During this time different religious sects and denominations were formed. This splintering of organized religion allowed...