Why the Declaration of Independence Was Enlightenment

Topics: United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, Age of Enlightenment Pages: 3 (929 words) Published: January 26, 2013
“The Declaration of Independence” from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson Enlightenment Essay Sir Isaac Newton unveiled the gravitational theory in 1687. Although this idea may sound basic to us today, at the time it was revolutionary. It contradicted religious beliefs and created a cultural movement. The theory created an alternate way of viewing the world, through a lens of rationality and experiment. This single theory allowed others to break through the confines of the Puritan and religious laws that had governed their lives. This movement led to the creation of the Enlightenment era, a time where radical new ideas forever changed the course of human civilization. A result of this new range of thinking was the Declaration of Independence, which represented the creation of country built on Enlightenment ideals. In “The Declaration of Independence”, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston expressed Enlightenment principles, through their beliefs in natural law, foundational human rights, and the uncovering of truth through facts and rationality. The authors expressed their Enlightenment ideals through their belief in natural law and a divine creator. They believed all humans should follow natural law, an ideal contradictory to the Puritan era, where religious law dominated society. The authors believed “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” (Jefferson et al. 342) carried enough weight, and that a violation of the law “impels them to the separation” (342). The English “waged cruel war against human nature”(344), thus obstructed their subjects ability to reason by “violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty” (344), the key attributes in dissecting natural law. The linchpin for all Enlightenment ideals was the authors’ belief in a divine creator, who built the massive machine we live in. Humans represent just another piece of his elaborate creation, “endowed by the Creator with inherent and inalienable...

Cited: Jefferson, Thomas et al. “The Declaration of Independence.” The Norton Anthology American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. United States of America: W.W. Norton
& Company, Inc., 2007. 342-346.
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