Enlightenment of America was an era associated with great upheaval in the period between the 17th and 18th century among the thirteen American colonies. It is through it that the great American Revolution which led to the establishment of the American republic took place. The European transformation triggered the enlightenment. The primary objective of the American awareness was to give the people of America a complete transition from the old ways into a new and practical world. The goal was to apply scientific rationale to the world of science, religion, and politics. Among the issues achieved by the American enlightenment were religious forbearance and the restoration of literature, music, and arts as critical areas of study in colleges. It is through the American civilization that new colleges were founded for instance Yale college, kings college of Philadelphia among others although different names currently know them. The critical political thinkers of the American enlightenment were Thomas Paine, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin among others. Franklin played a crucial role in electricity while Pine explored the common sense issues of distinguishing between what is right from wrong. The paper will, therefore, analyze the enlightenment period of America through the works of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine among other personalities.
Different dates for American enlightenment have been raised but the period is believed to be between the 17th and 18th century. However, a particular time can be traced, and it was when the enlightenment books were being collected 15th October 1714. The books were then donated to the Yale College and received by a young man known as Samuel Johnson. After the study of the books, Samuel found that they were all contradicting with what he already knew from the Puritan studies. He considered the information obtained from the donated books being superior and he said that it had flooded his mind with knowledge. Samuel called the research new learning which led to the establishment of a new curriculum in the Yale College where he was now a tutor. It is then that the enlightenment ideas diffused into the proper and religious systems. Benjamin Franklin among other leaders fought for religious freedom and tolerance, and they argued that America should be a nation where all religions co-exist in peace and harmony so that none is superior to the other. A shift from indigenous religion to religious tolerance was among the features that defined enlightenment of America. Similarly, the passing of the Connecticut constitution was also realized, and the 180-year-old standing order was scrapped off. The new law allowed religious tolerance and freedom among the American people.
Franklin in his work modified literature into what he called moral perfection, for instance, contrary to the norm where there were many vocabularies with fewer meanings he established several purposes under few names. He chose thirteen words and gave them different meanings he assigned a week for each word so that he used thirteen weeks to complete the study of all the virtues and one year to complete the full course. He transformed religion by merging it with the world of arts and literature, for instance, the songs of Solomon became a poem to him. Besides, he allotted work to the 24hrs of a natural day where he divided it into the morning, noon evening and day. Franklin argued that the transformation is not as physical as he had several faults but worked on them until he obtained perfection. In his search for perfection, Franklin made a small book where he could track his performance and whenever he made a fault he put a mark on the virtue and the day of the failure. In his study of the meaning of the 13 words he put each word into practice but made several flaws it implied that in literature no wrong word but each could be given several purposes. It was the literature of finding true meanings of words and also establishing more than one sense. In his work, the author confirmed that no one including himself could follow the order of the day as intended, and instead people break the rules as they progress. Similarly, the enlightenment literature is meant to break away from the set standards of seeking perfection to the one that allows people to make mistakes as they proceed. In his work, he forbade the old laws and embraced modernity. Also, Franklin factors in the ideas of people as being rich and full of wisdom as no one has the wrong answer
On the other hand, Thomas Paine was a great writer during the enlightenment period in America. In his work on common sense is a pamphlet that was written between 1775 and 1776 campaigns for the freedom of Great Britain. He wrote the literature in plain and convincing prose where he merged moral and political arguments in convincing people to fight for an egalitarian government. He argues that from the literature context things which are wrong become right. Paine further explains that in the course of defending customs people suffer because they accept the abuse of power. He instills commonsense to the people by enlightening them not to support severe forms of energy. Paine inspires the people to be aware of their right so that they cannot fall victims of tyranny governments.
The author argues that it is only through wise and worthy people that triumph over oppressive authorities can be eliminated. He uses common sense in challenging the British tyranny in the monarchial government. Paine urged the people to forget about the path to reconciliation and follow independence which is common sense. His literature is all about changing the mindset and having a different view of issues surrounding the people. The author uses everyday language to speak to the ordinary people of America to have a new mindset that is inclined towards independence. He uses aphorism to explore the truth about the state of the American nation in the hands of the British masters. He says that when the time is allowed to play its role, then it takes more converts than reason. Paine enlightens the people that they have long suffered under an abusive power which is considered as the right thing. In the context of religion, he used biblical quotes which people easily understood and in this regard it is common sense to deliver the message of freedom to the people of America. The central theme of the pamphlet common sense is to unite the Americans ahead of the revolutionary war. It is through the common sense pamphlet that revolution became a reality. His literature brought enlightenment to the people of America as everyday things that they did not know were exposed and they were convinced to fight for freedom.
The rhetorical style that Paine uses is a direct and written merely explanation which people easily picked the ideas. He aimed at the sentiments of the colonists, and he made the journey of independence a personal choice that could only be achieved through unity. The author used DEISM as a tool that God allows his creation to monitor themselves through natural laws. Although the people wanted to work towards reconciliation Paine refused the idea and wanted people to have freedom and independence. His primary purpose in the conventional sense pamphlet was that the government should not control people who do not have a word in what is being done.
Thomas Paine: Common Sense
Common sense by Thomas Paine is a pamphlet written anonymously to enlighten the people of America on the need to push towards independence from the colonial rule and not towards the path of reconciliation. He argues that it is common sense for people to know what is happening in a system of power that rules them. Paine insists on independence from the rule of the British. The author argues that there is a need to eliminate the abuse of power by the Americans. He uses plain language so that the people can easily understand it. The literature presents two agendas which include independence from the British influences and the establishment of a democratic republic. The piece is critical because it sparked off the American Revolution. It also enlightened the people of America to fight for independence and not reconciliation.
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Chapter 9
http://www.kellscraft.com/FranklinAutobio/FranklinAutobiographyCh09.htmlOxford hands book retrieved from http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199600304.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199600304-e-021Paine, Thomas. Common sense. Xist Publishing, 2015.
Thomas Paine: Common Sense
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