Ideas of enlightenment have been seen across the world for centuries now, but the first real movements started around 1669. With the majority of its great thinkers in Europe, particularly England and France, enlightenment became a great philosophic movement marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas. This happened because of so many people were fed up with religion and government controlling citizens’ lives, especially with their natural and civil rights. Most of the philosophers had very similar ideas. They believed that the government should aid in the protection of these rights, not limit and control them. This supports one of the qualities of the ‘new concept of government,’ which is a government ‘for the people by the people.’
Probably one of the most famous philosophers of the enlightenment period is John Locke. Locke was a very innovative thinker, and his ideas are still practiced today. His main theory, natural law and natural rights, was used to determine legitimate and illegitimate civil governments. These natural rights, as Locke explained it, were a set of rights that every man, woman, and child were born with. They are a set of rights that cannot be taken away, especially by the government.
Two other ideas of Locke were: he believed that any tyrannical government should be overthrown, and he strongly sought out a separation between church and state. Locke’s ideas became a large involvement in writing the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Basically these two documents were a written protection of the citizens’ natural rights.