Global History II
September 15 2014
DBQ Essay During the period of enlightenment, Enlightenment philosophers helped human beings evolve and grow in their knowledge of government. They realized that the type of people governing them and/or the way they were being governed wasn’t cut for them. That was when enlightenment came about. Enlightenment was a European movement that emphasized on what the people wanted. Philosophers such as John Locke, Baron Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rouseau began to question the people who ruled them and encouraged others to do the same. Many of the ideas of the philosophers later influenced the way the United States of America ran their government, and created the basis for America’s Declaration of Independence. By analyzing the actions and historical circumstance of the enlightenment philosophers, one can safely say that people both during that time period and for generations to come were impacted by the philosophers’ beliefs and ideas. John Locke was one of the first English writers and philosophers to share his beliefs with the world. He believed in natural rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It may be true that many others also felt this way, but did not speak up in the way the John Locke did. The following is quoted from document two, an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence: “Governments are formed by people to protect their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights are the exact rights that John Locke earlier believed that belong to everyone from birth. Stemming from these natural rights came unalienable rights in the U.S, which basically was rights given to everyone; foreigner, naturalized citizen, or natural born citizen. The Declaration of Independence was, for some part, written based off of the writings of John Locke. Locke was one of the many European philosophers who molded the United States’ government into what it is today. Another person who heavily influenced the way the American government works was Baron Montesquieu. According to document three, Montesquieu was a French Enlightenment writer who came up with the idea of separating government into different branches of power. He created three; legislative (the one that would create the laws), judicial (the one that would interpret the laws), and executive (the one that would execute/carry out the laws). Montesquieu truly believed that without this separation of power, there would be no liberty.