American Government was influenced greatly by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment ideas helped open people’s minds to a new way of thinking and not to except the ways of the past. Many people spoke out towards their ideas during the Enlightenment, and many became well-known. Those same people helped influence the American Government. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution established the many ideas borrowed from the Enlightenment.
Before the Enlightenment governments of Europe were primarily Divine Right Monarchies, which means that the King were "selected by God and was God's spokesperson on Earth." In other words, to disobey or disagree with the king was to disagree with God. Not surprisingly, there was no division between Church and State (each country had an official "state" religion), no checks and balances, no separation of powers, no freedom of speech, and commoners had no rights. On the other hand, the nobility had many rights. Today it’s greatly known that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were well influenced from the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment thinkers argued against these traditions, and called for individual freedoms, governments of the people, and religious freedom. They were "enlightened" because they believed that humans could answer questions for them, and sought ways to put this philosophy into practice. John Locke, an Enlightenment thinker, highly influenced the Declaration of Independence. He mentioned that he believed there were natural rights that all people had life, liberty and property. The Founding Fathers added that in the Declaration of Independence (Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness). Another idea Locke had was that if a ruler was oppressing his people, the people had the right to rebel. For Jefferson to write the Declaration it was considered treason, but he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that since their ruler was being oppressive, it was ok to rebel.