Colonial America was a vast land occupied by English, French, Dutch, and Spanish immigrants who established colonies to influence Native Americans living in the area. The thirteen American colonies also saw a period of intellectual ferment, which gave rise to a wide range of ideologies.
The spirit of rationalism was to provide early settlers with a useful and practical form in the life of the nation and its people.
In general, rationalism or the age of reason is the belief that each person can arrive at truth using logical thinking rather than relying on intuition, religious faith, and the authority of the past.
It originated in Europe in the twilight of the 17th century when groups of scientists and philosophers came up with ideologies on a way of life besides the Puritist religion.
The ideas of rationalism subsequently spread to the American colonies, and a significant number of Puritists began to question their way of life.
As centuries passed, scientists and philosophers proved Puritist beliefs to be ineffective or false, which eventually led to massive changes in history.
The most famous historical events which occurred in the age of rationalism included the Revenue Act of 1767, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Zulon Pike Expedition, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Other than that, it also saw many discoveries from Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Galileo Galilei, which further debunked Puritist claims. Unlike Puritists, rationalists concentrate mainly on the impressions derived from intellect as they believe that everything that happens has a logical explanation.
They also believed that the Bible was not written to be the primary basis of living an individual’s life. Instead, these rational thinkers believed that God intended allowed us to uncover specific aspects of the world for ourselves and expected us to make conscious decisions based on facts and reason.
The rise of rationalism was the start of an open society where people were free to pursue liberty and individual happiness.
It enabled Native Americans to search for knowledge and truth with the help of logic and evidence and allowed one to think about the possibilities.
This incredible rise also led to the production of essays, numerous books, scientific discoveries, revolutions, wars, laws, and inventions.
These works were primarily geared towards fighting against obscurantism, irrationality, and authoritarianism, which were deeply ingrained by established churches of this period.
Fun and Interesting Facts about Rational Thought
- The period of Rational Thought or Age of Reason had six popular ideas, particularly conservatism, republicanism, scientific progress, toleration, liberalism, and deism.
- These ideas were based and shared with European Enlightenment thinkers but had taken a uniquely American form.
- The Age of Reason assumed a critical role in establishing a revolution against Great Britain and the creation of the modern republic.
- Ideas mainly influenced the rational thoughts used by early colonial settlers in the salons of London, Berlin, and Paris.
- Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington were among the most famous figures of the Age of Reason.
- The period of rational thought emphasized reason and science to debunk Puritanism beliefs.
- Rational thoughts guided the foundation of the colony of Georgia, but those principles were unable to stand up to the realities of colonial life.
- Benjamin Franklin was considered as the symbol of the Age of Reason.
Q & A
What are the six popular ideas that dominated the Age of Reason?
The six ideas during this period included conservatism, republicanism, scientific progress, toleration, liberalism, and deism.
Where did rationalism originate?
Rationalism originated in Europe in the 17th century.
What are the main influences of rational thought?
Rational thoughts were mainly influenced by ideas in Paris, Berlin, and London.
Who is the symbol of the Age of Reason?
Benjamin Franklin was the symbol of the Age of Reason.
Who are the most famous American figures during the Age of Reason?
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin were among the most popular public figures in this period.