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Colonial Experience, American Identity. Interdependence ties together colonies Intellectual/cultural changes erode European traditions Opportunities add to sense of entitlement. I. The Age of Reason. “Enlightenment” Rational society. A. Rational self-interest. Repulsed by Salem

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Colonial experience american identity l.jpg
Colonial Experience, American Identity

Interdependence ties together colonies

Intellectual/cultural changes erode European traditions

Opportunities add to sense of entitlement


I the age of reason l.jpg

I. The Age of Reason

“Enlightenment”

Rational society


A rational self interest l.jpg
A. Rational self-interest

  • Repulsed by Salem

  • “Self-made” menLiberty


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B. The English Connection

1. Isaac Newton

1687 – Principia Mathematica

Natural Law


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2. John Locke

1689 – Essay Concerning Human Understanding

“tabula rasa”


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1690 – Two Treatises on Government

Contract Theory

“Natural Rights” Life, Liberty, Property

English Liberalism


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C. Churches

  • Deism

    Harvard theologians - “liberal” ProtestantismInnate evil?

    Innate authority?


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D. American perspective

1. Pragmatism

Benjamin Franklin

  • active, confident, improving

  • Voluntary Associations

  • Self-education

  • Social improvement



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A. Revivals 1734-1775

1. Anglicans = George Whitfield Methodists = John Wesley Presbyterians = Gilbert Tennant


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2. Jonathan EdwardsSinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741

- revive Calvinism God-centered universe predestination America cannot shirk its destiny

- detested “money-grubbers” moral relativism


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B. Causes

  • Economic frustration / competition“River Gods”

  • Women


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C. Revivalism

  • American-style Protestantismalways looking for converts

    2. Blends religion & politics

    1760s Connecticut: Old Lights v. New Lights


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3. Denominationalism: religious pluralism- end of state-supported churches - revivals split churches - breaks political power of churches


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D. Cultural basis of Revolution

  • Required no education: egalitarian

  • Gave poorer, rural colonists commonexperience

  • Experience was anti-authoritarian


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4. Gave colonists common enemySatan “Millennialism”

King of France (Catholic) King of England


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