Many changes took place between 1650 and 1750. There was territory expansion as European countries started colonies in the Americas. Political changes took place as well, as people began to rise up against the government. New economic standards were set as people realized that having money was not the way to economic control but by controlling the means of production.
Britain, France, and Spain were busy establishing colonies in the Americas. They found materials for production as well as wealth (gold). Spain was more concerned with finding gold and wealth than materials for production and trade. This is because they believed in the idea that controlling the wealth of the economy would allow them to control the economy. Britain and France were building colonies to produce items they could sell or trade. Islands in the south were colonized to produce sugar; plantations in the 13 colonies were used to produce wood and tobacco.
There were political changes taking place at this time also. A few revolutions took place. The American Revolution and the French Revolution were two of the major ones. The American Revolution was fought for the freedom and liberty of the American Colonies from England. The same ideas sparked the French Revolution. These were two very powerful ideas that came from rationalism. Liberty and equality became popular with the lower classes of each country. It gave everyone equal rights and freedom the do what they wanted as long as it did not harm another person. The call for liberty was also the call for a new form of government. It led to a system of government were representatives were elected by the people and were accountable to the people, giving the people the authority to make laws.
Equality for everyone was misleading during this period. When we think of equality, it means men and women, regardless of race or color. But the equality that these people were fighting for had a few stipulations. First, most of the liberals were men, it was a shared opinion between these men that equality with women was neither wanted nor needed. Second, these liberals did not believe everyone should be equal economically; only that everyone had an equal chance to gain economically. These liberal ideas reflected the Enlightenment’s stress on human dignity, personal liberty, and human happiness, along with its faith in science, rationality, and progress.