The Enlightenment period of European history, which is sometimes referred to as the Age of Reason, saw a dramatic shift in thought from traditional religious and political systems to those of reason and rationality. This period, which lasted from the late 17th century through much of the 18th century, saw the emergence of new political ideas and philosophies such as democracy, individualism, and laissez-faire economics. But what aided the spread of Enlightenment ideas from Europe to the United States?
One of the most significant factors in the spread of Enlightenment ideas from Europe to the United States was the migration of Europeans to the New World. Europeans had been exploring and colonizing the Americas since the 15th century, but the waves of immigrants that arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries brought with them the ideals of the Enlightenment. For example, the American Revolution was largely inspired by Enlightenment principles such as the emphasis on individual liberty and the rights of citizens. This influx of people with Enlightenment values helped to spread these ideas throughout the newly formed United States.
Additionally, Enlightenment ideas were spread through the literature of the period. Writers such as Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively about the concepts of democracy, individualism, and the separation of church and state. These writings were widely published and circulated, and allowed Enlightenment values and ideas to continue to spread to the American public.
Overall, the most fundamental factor in the spread of Enlightenment ideas from Europe to America was immigration. This influx of people from Europe, combined with the literature of the period, created an environment in which Enlightenment values and ideas could flourish. Without this combination, it is unlikely that the United States we know today would have been born.