Significance to Democracy - Murrieta Valley Unified School District
Transcript Significance to Democracy - Murrieta Valley Unified School District
a system of political and social representation and control:
A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by
them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving
periodically held free elections
Greece, Athens & Athens Law
•Greece started about 2000 B.C. by establishing cities in valleys
along Greece’s rocky coast
•Each city-state had its own government due to their geographic
•Athens was the largest & most powerful city state in Greece
•Athens first had a monarchy (government controlled by one person)
•Athens government developed into an aristocracy (State ruled by
•Citizens - were all free adult males
•Slaves - formed 1/3 of the Athens population
Maps of Ancient Greece
Democratic Greek Leaders
Elected chief Archon
(statesman) in 594
B.C. to help solve the
problems of Athens
•A statesman who solved the economic &
political crisis that Athens faced by
passing a law outlawing slavery based on
debt & he canceling the farmers debts.
•Established four classes of citizenship
based on wealth, rather than heredity.
•Created a council of 400, which prepared
business for the already existing council.
•Introduced a code of laws, which gave
citizens the right to bring charges against
•Encouraged the export of goods, which
became a profitable overseas trade.
With most of the land and political power in the hands of the nobles,
the peasants were rapidly losing not only their land but their freedom
as well. Solon annulled all mortgages and debts, limited the amount
of land anyone might add to his holdings, and outlawed all borrowing
in which a person’s liberty might be pledged.
Other economic reforms included a ban on the export of all
agricultural products except olive oil. Although there was opposition
to Solon’s reforms, they subsequently became the basis of the
Athenian state. He also introduced a more humane law code to
replace the code of Draco. - From later accounts in the writings of
Aristotle and Plutarch it appears that in Athens the penalty of death
was prescribed for the most trivial offense. The code adopted the
principle that murder must be punished by the state and not by
•In 508 B.C. he introduces new reforms
A rich and
•Wanted to break up the power of the nobility
•He allowed all citizens to submit laws for debate & passage
•He reorganized the assembly to make Athens a Full Democracy (Every
Athenian man would have one vote, and they would all meet and vote on what to do.
The big meeting was called the Assembly)
•Created the council of Five Hundred, (a smaller council of 500 men, who were
chosen by a lottery, and changed every year)
•He arranged the voting so that his family, the Alcmaeonids (alk-MEEoh-nids), would have more votes than anyone else.
•Regarded as the Founder of Democracy in Athens
Greek – Persian Wars 490 B.C. - 479 B.C.
Persia invades Greece causing the Greek city-states to unite. Greece defeats
Persia & creates an alliance of 140 city-states called The Delian League, with
Athens as its lead city-state.
•A statesman who increased the number
of paid public officials & paid jurors
•Under Pericles, Athens evolved into a
Direct Democracy (a form of government
where citizens rule directly & not thru
•Under Pericles, more Athens citizens
were actively involved in government
than any other city-state
•He is also responsible for the building of
Led Athens for 32
years, from 461 to
“ Our constitution is called a democracy
because power is in the hands not of a
minority but of the whole people.”
The Golden Age
Eventually, Greece is defeated by Sparta in what is known as The
Peloponnesian War (431 B.C. – 404 B.C.)
After the Peloponnesian War was over, all the cities of Greece were
worn out & poor. Many men went and fought for the Persians for
money. But others tried to rebuild the cities. This was the time of
Socrates and his student Plato, the great philosophers.
To the north of Greece, in a country called Macedon (MA-suh-donn),
King Philip II had noticed that the Greeks were very weak. He
attacked the Greek city-states and one by one he took them over.
When Philip II was assassinated in 336 B.C., his son Alexander
(Alexander The Great) became king, and he also ruled Greece.
Alexander was only 20 when he became king. At first a lot of people
thought he was too young. But he not only held onto Greece, he also
took a big army of Greeks and Macedonians and attacked the
In 334 BC, Alexander the Great of Macedonia
left Pella, crown city of Macedonia, to attack the
Persians that had been threatening the Greeks for
more than a century. Eight years later, Alexander
had put an end to the Egyptian and Persian
Empire; he controlled the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates,
and Indus valleys. He was both pharaoh of
Egypt, and The Great King of Persia. However
ten years after leaving Pella, he was dead in
Babylon, conquered by a fever. When asked on
his death bed who was to succeed him he
answered: "The strongest".
War Path of Alexander the Great
The Conquest of Egypt and Persia
Ancient Greek philosophy is dominated by three very famous men:
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. All three of these lived in Athens for
most of their lives, and they knew each other. Socrates came first,
and Plato was his student. Socrates was killed in 399 B.C., & Plato
began his work by writing down what Socrates had taught, and then
continued by writing down his own ideas and opening a school.
Aristotle, who was younger, came to study at Plato's school, and
ended up starting his own school as well.
Plato was born in Athens, to a very wealthy &
aristocratic family. Many of his relatives were involved
ultimately arrested for
with Athenian politics, though Plato himself was not.
When Plato was a young man, he went to listen to
teachings & sentenced
Socrates, & learned from Socrates how to think, and
what sort of questions to think about. When Socrates was
to death. He was
killed, Plato was very upset (He was 30 years old when
poisoned by being
Socrates died). Practically everything we know about
made to drink
Socrates comes from what Plato wrote down. One of his
earlier works is the Republic, which describes what Plato
Hemlock, (a plant).
thought would be a better form of government than the
He never wrote down
government of Athens.
Plato also thought a lot about the natural world and how it works.
He thought that everything had a sort of ideal form. The ideal form
of a man is his soul, according to Plato. The soul is made of three
parts: our natural desires, our will, which lets us resist our natural
desires, and our reason, which tells us when to resist our natural
desires and when to obey them. For instance, when you are hungry,
and you want to eat, that's a natural desire. If you are in the
cafeteria at lunchtime, that's a good time to obey your natural desire
and go ahead and eat. But if you are hungry in the middle of class,
your reason will tell you to wait until lunch, and your will lets you
Plato started a school for philosophers, called the Academy. The
Academy was a big success, and Plato stayed there for the rest of his
life. One of Plato's students at the Academy was Aristotle. Plato
spent a lot of the last part of his life writing another political piece
called the Laws, which talks about how corrupt politicians are, and
how they have to be watched every minute. Plato died at 82, in 347
Aristotle was not originally from Athens. He lived near Macedon, in the north of Greece.
He was not from a rich family like Plato. When Aristotle was a young man, about 350
B.C., he went to study at Plato's Academy. Plato was old then. Aristotle did very well at
the Academy, but he never got to be among its leaders, & when Plato died, he was not
chosen to lead the Academy after him. Soon afterwards, Aristotle left Athens and went to
Macedon to be the tutor of the young prince Alexander, who grew up to be Alexander The
When Alexander grew up and became King, Aristotle went back to Athens and opened his
own school, the Lyceum (lie-SAY-um). The school was successful for hundreds of years.
Aristotle & Alexander remained friends for the remainder of Alexander’s life.
Aristotle was more interested in science than Socrates or Plato. He wanted to use
Socrates' logical methods to figure out how the real world worked; therefore Aristotle is
really the father of today's scientific method. Aristotle was especially interested in biology,
in classifying plants & animals in a way that would make sense. This is part of the Greek
impulse to make order out of chaos: to take the chaotic natural world and impose a manmade order on it. He created a classification system of monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies,
democracies & republics which we still use today.
When Alexander died in 323 B.C., there were revolts against Macedonian rule in Athens.
People accused Aristotle of being secretly on the side of the Macedonians. He left town
quickly, and spent the last years of his life back in the north again where he had been
The first Olympic games at Olympia were held in Ancient
Greece in the city state of Athens 776 B.C. There was a
flame burning in the honor of Zeus, lord of all the gods.
They were a constant in ancient Greece. The games were
even held in 480 B.C. during the Persian Wars, and they
coincided with the Battle of Thermopylae.
The games were held every four years from 776 BC to 393
AD, when they were abolished by the Christian Byzantine
Emperor Theodosius I.
The very first Olympic games only held one event - the marathon.
The games were greatly expanded from a one-day festival of athletics and
wrestling to, in 472 BC, five days with many events:
wrestling, boxing, horse racing, long jumping, javelin, and chariot races.
Early Olympic victors became national heroes and celebrated in music and poetry.
In early Olympic Games - women were not allowed to watch the games.
The Olympic Games were held to help unite many different countries in a peaceful
manner. Each participating country is limited to three entries.
The Greek competitors marked the first modern event of the Olympics with cross
country runners bringing a torch from the valley of Olympia to light a much larger
torch in the stadium where the games are held.
The Olympic Games were banned in AD 394 but were revived and made
international in 1896.
The Legacy of Greece
•Greece set lasting standards in politics & Philosophy.
•Greeks did not rely on superstition or traditional explanations of the
world. Instead, they used reason & intelligence to discover predictable
patterns that they called “Natural Laws”.
•The Greeks developed direct democracy in order that citizens could
actively participate in political decisions.
•They were the first to think of 3 branches of government
•Legislative branch – to pass laws
•Executive branch – to carry out the laws
•Judicial branch – to settle disputes about the laws
History of Republican Government
A Republic means the people rule themselves through votes and their consent, not one
single person (For the People, By the People). The Roman Republic took much of the
Greek government's principles and incorporated them into their own. The Republic's
governing body was called the Senate, made up of Patricians who ran for elections. In
America, a senator is elected into office for six years, while in Rome, a senator, unless
proclaimed Senator For Life, had one year in office. The Senate elected two wealthy
men to become the Consuls of Rome. These men would be the ones to execute laws
and whatever the Senate thought up, each with the power to check the other because the
Romans swore they'd never bow to a king again. If a war should come up, one Consul
would lead the armies, called Legions, while the other minded the civil businesses. If
the now greatly expanded Republic should be in a situation most dire, the Senate would
elect one man Dictator of Rome. This meant that the Senate agreed to have one man
have total power of 6 months, after that, he was no longer in power.
This Republic, however, wasn't much of a Republic to poor people called
Plebeians. Slaves had no say at all in anything. The lack of Plebeian representation led
to uprisings or civil wars, so the Senate put in a position for two men to represent the
Plebeians and they had the power to call veto (I oppose) and thereby nullifying anything
the Senate passed which was not in the best interests of the common people.
victory for the
of a written law
code. With laws
the law to suit
In 451 B.C. a group of 10 officials began writing down Rome’s laws.
They had the laws carved on 12 tables, or tablets & publicly displayed.
The 12 tables established the idea that all free citizens had the right to
protection of the law & that laws would be fairly administered.
Magistrates - is a judicial officer with limited authority to
administer and enforce the law.
2 *consuls—chief magistrates who convened and presided over
the Senate and assemblies, initiated and administered legislation,
served as generals in military campaigns, and represented Rome
in foreign affairs.
8 *praetors—served primarily as judges in law courts, but could
convene the Senate and assemblies; they assumed administrative
duties of consuls when these were absent from Rome. 2
censors—elected every 5 years for terms of 1½ years; revised
lists of senators and equestrians; conducted census of citizens and
property assessments for tax purposes; granted state contracts.
4 aediles—supervised public places, public games, and the grain
supply in the city of Rome; 2 were required to be plebeians, and
the other two (who had more status) could come from either
order; the latter 2 were called curule aediles.
10 tribunes—had to be plebeian, because the office was
established to protect the plebeians from arbitrary actions of
magistrates. Hence the primary power of tribunes was negative;
they could veto the act of any magistrate and stop any official act
20 quaestors—administered finances of state treasury and served
in various capacities in the provinces; when elected quaestor, a
man automatically became eligible for membership in the Senate,
though censors had to appoint him to fill a vacancy
•composed of 600 magistrates and ex-magistrates (minimum qualification was
election as quaestor) who served for life unless expelled by the censors
•normally met in a building called the Curia located in the Roman Forum
•although technically an advisory body, in effect the Senate was the chief
governmental body because it controlled public finances and foreign affairs, assigned
military commands and provinces, and debated and passed decrees that would be
submitted to the assemblies for final ratification
•the Republican government was symbolized by the letters SPQR (senatus
populusque Romanus), meaning “the Senate and the Roman people”
These were theoretically composed of all males who were full Roman citizens, though
individuals had to attend in person in order to vote. No debate from the floor was
possible, and votes were counted in groups, not individually (the vote of each group
was determined by the vote of the majority of individuals in that group).
For hundreds of years after the founding of the
republic, Rome expanded its territories through
conquest & trade. By about 70 B.C. Rome’s
Mediterranean possessions stretched from Anatolia
in the east to Spain in the west. But expansion
created problems for the republic.
For decades, Rome alternated between the chaos
of civil war & the authoritarian rule of a series of
dictators. Eventually the republic collapsed and
Augustus became emperor in 27 B.C.
•Rome gave the world the idea of a republic
•Rome’s written legal code – a collection of Roman laws called the 12
Tables that assured that all citizens had a right to the protection of the
law. This is important because once laws are written down & agreed
upon, the laws cannot be simply made up at the whim of a dictator.
•Roman Law – The Romans tried to create a system of laws that could be
universally applied throughout the Roman Empire. They believed that
laws should be based on principles of reason & justice & should protect
citizens & their property.
•All citizens had the right to equal treatment under the law
•A person was considered innocent until proven guilty
•The burden of proof rested with the accuser rather than the accused
The religious beliefs and practices and the way of life of the Jews.
•Originally called Hebrews
•Abraham is considered the “Father of the Hebrews.”
•Jews written laws: First five books of Hebrew scripture are called The Torah: Unlike
the laws of the Greeks & Romans, the Jewish laws focused more on morality & ethics. Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (first 5 books of modern day Bible) –
Written by Moses
•Jewish religion was/is monotheistic – Belief in only one God. All other religions
before this were polytheistic – Belief in many Gods.
•Significance to Democracy: Jews believed that each human being was created in the
image of God, therefore, each human being has a unique, individuality. Greeks &
Romans believed this not because of God, but rather because of man’s ability to reason.
•The Jews also believed that God had given man moral freedom, or the capacity to
choose between good & evil, meaning that each person was responsible for his or her
•The Jews believed that it is the responsibility of every person to oppose injustice &
oppression & that the community should help the unfortunate.
The code included rules of social & religious behavior to which even
rulers were subject. While the Hebrew code of justice was strict, it was
softened by expressions of God’s mercy.
Moses: A closer look:
•Moses was revered as a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
•Moses’ wife was Zipporah, daughter of Hobab (Jethro), Priest of
Midian. There has been much debate over the skin color of Zipporah.
•Moses is considered by many to be the greatest figure in Jewish
•He was a diplomat, a lawmaker, a political organizer, a military
leader, a judge and a religious leader.
•Moses also had a speech impediment (many believed that he
stuttered, other believed that he would just get overly nervous)
•Moses presented the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people.
•According to biblical scripture, Moses witnessed God incarnate (he
saw the backside of God).
The word Christianity was derived from the name Christ.
Yahshua (Jesus in English) was his name. Christ was his
title. Christos is a Greek word meaning Savior or Messiah.
Christianity’s Significance to Democracy:
Jesus stressed the importance of people’s love for God, their
neighbors, their enemies and themselves.
Ultimately Jesus was persecuted because he was referred to as “The
King of The Jews.” He was considered as a political threat to the
After the death of Jesus, his message was preached all throughout
the eastern Mediterranean by Saul Of Tarsus (Paul). He stressed the
essential equality of all human beings, which is a belief that is
central to democracy.
Although Christianity was a threat to the Roman Empire, by 380
A.D. it became the official religion of Rome. Eventually, it took
root in Europe, The Near East and Northern Africa.
Islam - Another monotheistic religion that taught
equality of all persons & individual worth which
developed in southwest Asia in the early 600’s.
Islam was based on the teachings of the prophet
Muhammad, which are found in the book called
He emphasized the dignity of all
human beings & the brotherhood of
all people. A belief in the bond of
community & the unity of all
people led to a tolerance of
different groups within the
Followers of Islam are called
Muslims & they are required by
their religion to offer charity &
help those in need.
The Legacy of Monotheistic Religions
Several ideas crucial to the shaping of a democratic outlook
emerged from the early monotheistic religions of southwest
•The duty of the individual & the community to combat oppression
•The worth of the individual
•The equality of people before God
Renaissance & Reformation
The Roman Catholic Church
the Middle Ages it was the Most Dominant
institution in Western Europe
–His Bishops – Parish Priests
It influenced all aspects of life: Religious, Social &
Political. It was strongly authoritarian in structure.
"Renaissance," French for "rebirth,"
describes the intellectual and
economic changes that occurred in
Europe from the fourteenth through
the sixteenth centuries.
During the era known by this name,
Europe emerged from the economic
stagnation of the Middle Ages and
experienced a time of financial
growth. Also, and perhaps most
importantly, the Renaissance was an
age in which artistic, social,
scientific, and political thought
turned in new directions.
When Gutenberg of Germany invented the printing press in 1445, he forever changed
the lives of people in Europe and, eventually, all over the world. Previously,
bookmaking entailed copying all the words and illustrations by hand. Often the copying
had been done onto parchment, animal skin that had been scraped until it was clean,
smooth, and thin. The labor that went into creating them made each book very
expensive. Because Gutenberg's press could produce books quickly and with relatively
little effort, bookmaking became much less expensive, allowing more people to buy
Humanism Emerges - Books also helped to spread awareness of a new philosophy
that emerged when Renaissance scholars known as humanists returned to the works of
ancient writers. Previously, during the Middle Ages, scholars had been guided by the
teachings of the church, and people had concerned themselves with actions leading to
heavenly rewards. The writings of ancient, pagan Greece and Rome, called the
"classics," had been greatly ignored. To study the classics, humanists learned to read
Greek and ancient Latin, and they sought out manuscripts that had lain undisturbed for
nearly 2,000 years.
The humanists rediscovered writings on scientific matters, government, rhetoric,
philosophy, and art. They were influenced by the knowledge of these ancient
civilizations and by the emphasis placed on man, his intellect, and his life on Earth.
THE REFORMATION AGE (1500-1600 AD)
Martin Luther, one of a few men who significantly altered the course of world
history, was born in Eisleben, Germany on November 10, 1483. Throughout his
early life Luther had been burdened by a heavy sense of sinfulness. He became
more and more convinced that the works of Roman Catholicism were not the
means of salvation. Finally, focusing on Paul's statement, "The just shall live by
faith," Luther came to a climax in his convictions. Men were saved by the grace of
God manifested in the forgiveness of their sins and the imputation of Christ's
righteousness. God's grace was given, not on the basis of good works, but on the
basis of absolute faith in God's promises. However, this faith, Luther asserted, was
wholly the gift of God.
On October 31, 1517 Luther nailed his famous Ninety-five Theses, (95 points of
criticism of the church’s practices) to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. This
was the customary manner of calling for a debate, but this act was the spark which
exploded the powder keg of the Protestant Reformation.
Those who wanted to reform the Catholic Church were called Protestants, because
they protested against the power & abuses of the church. It was significant to
democracy because it encouraged people to make their own religious judgments,
or read & interpret the Bible for themselves, which in turn caused new churches to
be established. It also introduced people to reading & it exposed them to more
than just religious ideas.
Democratic Developments in
• England began developing democratic
institutions that limited the power of the
• Democratic traditions developed in England
have influenced many countries, including
In 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy in France, invaded England &
defeated the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings. William then
claimed the English throne. This set in motion events that led to:
•The end of feudalism – the political & economic system of the middle
•The beginnings of centralized government in England
•The development of democracy in England.
One of William’s
descendants was Henry II,
who ruled from 1154 to
1189. He controlled most
of the western half of
France, as well as all of
England. Henry is
considered one of the most
gifted statesmen of the 12th
William, the Duke of
One of Henry’s greatest achievements was the development of the jury trial as a means
of administering royal justice. Before then in France & England people were tried in
courts of feudal lords. In such courts, the accused would usually have to survive a duel
or some physically painful or dangerous ordeal to be set free.
Trial by ordeal is a judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused is
determined by subjecting them to a painful task. If either the task is completed without
injury, or the injuries sustained are healed quickly, the accused is considered innocent.
In this trial by ordeal, a person's innocence is tested
by his ability to withstand poison
Trial by fire - the suspect had to carry a bar of red-hot iron in his hands while he
walked nine marked paces. In the unlikely event of no burns appearing on his
hand, he was judged innocent. Otherwise, he was promptly hanged. A variation
was licking red-hot iron with the tongue or, sometimes, the suspect had to run
barefoot over nine red-hot ploughshares.
Ordeal by water
the guilty would be cast into a
river with a millstone tied to his
neck, if he sank, he was guilty. If
he floated, he was supported on
the surface by a divine miracle,
& he was considered innocent.
With King Henry, a royal judge would visit each shire, or county, at
least once a year. First, the judge would review the crime that had
been committed. Then he would ask 12 men, often neighbors of the
accused, to answer questions about the facts of the case. These
people were known as a jury. Unlike modern juries, they did not
decide guilt or innocence. People came to prefer the jury trial to the
feudal-court trial because they found it more just.
Gradually, England was unified under a single legal system. This
was called “Common Law” because it was common to the whole
Common law reflected customs & principles established over time.
Common law became the basis of the legal systems in many
English-speaking countries, including the U.S.
When Henry II died, his son Richard the Lion Hearted assumed the
After him, Richard’s brother John, who was
unpopular, became king.
John fought a costly
war with France where
England lost many of
their land holdings in
France. John also tried
to raise taxes to help
pay for the war.
This led to conflict between the English nobles & the King. In 1215 the
angry nobles rebelled & forced John to grant guarantees of certain
traditional political rights. They presented their demands to him in
written form as the MAGNA CARTA (Great Charter)
The Magna Carta was a contract between the king & nobles of England. It contained
certain important principles that limited the power of the king over all his subjects. It
implied the idea that kings had no right to rule in any way they pleased. They had to
govern according to the law.
The Magna Carta had 63 clauses. 2
Established basic legal rights for
individuals. Clause 12 declared that
taxes “shall be levied in our kingdom
only by the common consent of our
kingdom”, which meant that the king
had to ask for popular consent before
he could tax. Clause 39 declared, “No
man shall be arrested or
imprisoned…except by the lawful
judgment of his peers or by the law of
the land.” This meant that a person
had the right to a jury trial & to the
protection of the law.
The right to have the law work in known, orderly ways – is called “Due
Process of The Law”. In other words, the king could not willfully, or
arbitrarily, punish his subjects.
In 1295, King John’s grandson, Edward I, needed money to pay for
another war in France. He wanted wide support for the war, so he called
together not only lords but also lesser knights & some burgesses, or
leading citizens of the towns. Historians refer to this famous gathering
as the Model Parliament, because it established a standard for later
parliaments. They voted on taxes & helped Edward make reforms &
PARLIAMENT – England’s national legislature
Over the next few centuries, Parliament’s “power of the purse”, or its
right to approve certain expenses gave it strong influence in governing.
The House of Commons (an assembly formed by knights & burgesses,
which was the lower house of Parliament) was gradually becoming the
equal of the House of Lords. Parliament increasingly viewed itself as a
partner with the king in governing. It voted on taxes, passed laws &
advised on royal policies.
The Enlightenment &
Enlightenment Ideas help bring about
the American & French Revolutions
Before 1500, scholars generally decided what was true or
false by referring to an ancient Greek or Roman author or
to the Bible. Few European scholars challenged the
scientific ideas of the ancient thinkers or the church by
carefully observing nature for themselves.
The Medieval View – During the Middle Ages, most
scholars believed that the earth was an immovable object
located at the center of the universe. According to that
belief, the moon, the sun, and the planets all moved in
perfectly circular paths around the earth. Common sense
seemed to support this view. After all, the sun appeared to
be moving around the earth as it rose in the morning and
set in the evening.
This earth centered view of the
universe was called the
geocentric theory. The idea
came from Aristotle, the Greek
philosopher of the 4th century
B.C. The Greek astronomer
Ptolemy (TOL a mee)
expanded the theory in the 2nd
century A.D. In addition,
Christianity taught that God
had deliberately placed the
earth at the center of the
universe. Earth was thus a
special place on which the
great drama of life unfolded.
In the 17th & 18th centuries, an intellectual movement called “The
Enlightenment” developed. During this period, thinkers attempted to
apply the principles of reason & the methods of science to all aspects of
The Scientific Revolution of the 1500’s & 1600’s
was an even more immediate source of
Enlightenment thought. New ideas about society &
government developed out of it.
The Scientific Revolution caused thinkers to rely on
their own reasoning instead of merely accepting
They wanted to apply the scientific method, which
relied on observation & testing of theories, to human
affairs. Methods used by individuals such as Isaac
Newton, who discovered mechanical laws that
govern the universe & the methods that go along
Sir Isaac Newton’s
Laws (Laws of Inertia,
Action & Reaction,
Gravity, Laws of
Lunar motion & tides)
Newton Studied mathematics & physics at
Cambridge University. By the time he was 26,
Newton was certain that all physical objects were
affected equally by the same forces. Newton’s great
discovery was that the same force ruled motion of
the planets & all matter on earth & in space. They
key idea that linked motion in the heavens with
motion on the earth was the law of universal
gravitation. According to this law, every object in
the universe attracts every other object. The degree
of attraction depends on the mass of the objects and
the distance between them.
In 1687, Newton published his ideas in a work
called the Mathematical Principles of Natural
Philosophy. It was one of the most important
scientific books ever written. The universe he
described was like a giant clock. Its parts all worked
together perfectly in ways that could be expressed
mathematically. Newton believed that God was the
creator of this orderly universe, the clockmaker who
had set everything in motion.
Sir Isaac Newton
Hobbs, the English philosopher who was influenced by the
Scientific Revolution wrote a book entitled “Leviathan”, in
which he gives his views on human nature. The horrors of
the English Civil War convinced him that all people were
by nature selfish & wicked & ambitious & the most
appropriate kind of government for people was a
monarchy. Without governments to keep order, he said
there would be “war…of every man against every man,” &
life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish & short.” He
argued that to escape such a bleak life, people had to hand
over their rights to a strong ruler.
In exchange , they gained law & order. Hobbes called this agreement by
which people created a government the SOCIAL CONTRACT.
Because people acted in their own self-interest, Hobbes said, the ruler
needed total power to keep citizens under control. The best government
was one that had the awesome power of a leviathan (sea monster). In
Hobbes’s view, such a government was an absolute monarchy, which
could impose order & demand obedience.
Another early Enlightenment thinker, John
Locke, had a more positive view on human
nature. He believed that a governments most
fundamental duty is to protect the rights of the
people & that all human beings had, by nature,
the right to life, liberty & property known as
“Natural Rights”. He also said that people had
an absolute right to rebel against a government
that violated or failed to protect these rights.
He believed that a government’s power comes
from the people, not from God, therefore Kings
did not have a “Divine Right”.
His ideas inspired people & became
cornerstones of modern democratic thought.
Including the Declaration of Independence.
The Enlightenment reached its height in France in the mid-1700s.
Paris became the meeting place for people who wanted to discuss
politics & ideas. The social critics of this period in France were
know as Philosophes (FIHL uh sahfs). The French word for
philosophers. The philosophes believed that people could apply
reason to all aspects of life, just as Isaac Newton had applied reason
to science. Five concepts formed the core of their beliefs:
1. Reason – truth
through reason of
2. Nature – what
is natural is also
3. Happiness –
they rejected the
that people shold
find joy in the
urged people to
4. Progress – they
5. Liberty – They called for the liberties that the English people had won in their
Glorious Revolution and Bill of rights.
Other famous thinkers of the Enlightenment were Voltaire & Rousseau
Probably the most brilliant & influential of the
philosophes was Francois Marie Arouet. Using the pen
name Voltaire, he published more than 70 books of
political essays, philosophy & drama. Voltaire argued in
favor of tolerance, freedom of religion & free speech.
He often targeted the French government & Christianity.
Rousseau (roo SOH) was perhaps the most freethinker of the
Enlightenment philosophers. His most famous work was The
Social Contract(1762). In it, Rousseau advocated
democracy. He called the social contract an agreement
among free individuals to create a government that would
respond to the people’s will. He argued that legitimate
government came from the consent of the governed. He
argued that all people were equal & that titles of nobility
should be abolished. His ideas inspired many of the leaders
of the French Revolution who overthrew the monarchy in
Another French philosopher
Montesquieu, also recognized liberty
as a natural right. In The Spirit of
Laws (1748), he points out that any
person or group in power will try to
increase its power.
Like Aristotle, he searched for ways
to control government. He
concluded that liberty could best be
safeguarded by a separation of
powers, that is, by dividing
government into 3 separate
•Legislative – to make laws
Baron De Montesquieu
•Executive – to enforce them
•Judicial – courts interpret the laws
The beginnings of Democracy in
• Enlightenment ideas helped to shape the U.S.
• By 1700’s, there were 13 British colonies in North
America & they were ruled from Britain
• France has colonies to the north & West of of the
• 1754, Britain & France go to war for control of
North America. Called The French & Indian War
The American colonists helped
Britain defeat France in the
French & Indian War, which
ended in 1763. The war was
costly & the British believed
that the colonists should help
pay for the war, so they taxed
the colonists more than they
were already taxing them. This
was called the Stamp Act in
1765. The colonists protested
that this was a violation of their
rights as British citizens because
they were not represented in Parliament. Eventually, the colonists united
& began to arm themselves against what they called British oppression.
They fought for independence against Britain called the American
For several years, the new nation existed as a loose federation, or union,
of states under a plan of government called the Articles of Confederation.
Americans had wanted a weak central government. They feared that a
strong government would lead to the kind of tyranny they had rebelled
against. They established one body, the Congress, which was weak
because it did not have the power to collect taxes to pay war debts or to
finance the government.
In the summer of 1787, a
group of American leaders
met in Philadelphia. They
had been chosen by their
state legislatures to frame,
or work out a better plan of
government. The result of
their efforts was the
Constitution of the United
First, they agreed to set up a Representative Government – one in which citizens elect
representatives to make laws & policies for them.
Second, they created a Federal System. The powers of government were divided
between the federal government & the states.
Third, within the federal government, they set up a Separation of Powers. Power was
divided among the executive, legislative & judicial branches. This was to provide a
system of checks & balances to prevent any branch from having too much power.