As the Scientific Revolution laid the foundation for people to think more rationally about the world, the Enlightenment and revolutionary upheavals in the Atlantic world began to create and shape new governments, organizations, and societies. The Enlightenment introduced ideas of individual freedoms and liberties, and attacked the traditional ideas of monarchies, the Church, and governmental monopolies that often had become corrupt. These ideas spearheaded the drive for independence and change in North America, France, and Latin America, which led to uprisings, revolutions, and new styles of government, rooted more in ideas of liberalism and Enlightened thought than in tradition and divine order. While the United States, Haiti, and most of Latin America gained their independence out of these movements, France underwent major internal changes as a result of theirs. But even as ideas of religion and divine order were being challenged by the Enlightenment idea of reason, in some areas great surges of religious fervor took hold of people’s daily lives, as examined in the Counterpoint of this chapter. Nonetheless, the political revolutions formed a platform for further social and economic change and gave citizens confidence to use their new-found freedoms.

Back to top