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American Revolution

Molly Pitcher was a hero of the American Revolution.

Enlightenment ideas found fertile ground in the British colonies of America where influential leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were Enlightenment thinkers and Deists. Americans felt Britain had violated the social contract by passing unfair laws, so Americans were justified in throwing off British rule. The American Revolution in 1776 made a big impression on many people in Europe who saw it as a turning point in history; Americans had enforced the social contract, ended rule by the king, and established the first national democracy since ancient times.

Britain = another name for England or the United Kingdom or the Island of Great Britain.

American Revolution = the war between Great Britain and its American colonies (1775– 1783), by which the colonies won their independence.

democracy = a country ruled by the people; a country where people vote and elect their leaders.

The Declaration of Independence, written largely by Jefferson, began with a restatement of the Enlightenment ideas of philosopher John Locke: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” By demonstrating that Enlightenment ideas could be used to govern a nation, the young democracy in America became the model for a better world.

Declaration of Independence = the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer under British rule.