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Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment

Isaac Newton and his 2laws of motion sparked the Scientific Revolution into life. With these laws, Newton demonstrated that reasoning could be used to discover the natural laws that govern the universe. Thus, he wanted to prove that other laws of similar nature existed and are the ones that govern the society. Scientific Revolution provoked the conviction that reason, as opposed to religion and tradition could be used to determine the most suitable political and social systems for society. (Richard W. Bulliet et al)

Enlightenment refers to the late 18th century thought movement, which stressed on the importance of the reason as basis of human judgment. It encouraged the rational scientific inquiry, humanitarian tolerance and the idea of universal human rights. The philosophies propagated by its advocates sought to remove superstition, dogma, prejudice, censorship and economic and political injustice that existed. The first phase it the Enlightenment took place between 1715 and 1745, with the works of Montesquieu and Voltaire. This aroused the interest in scientific inquiry and philosophical speculation.

Other prominent personalities responsible for its development include Jean-Jacque Rousseau in France and Immanuel Kant of Germany, who wrote about the political ideals of the French and American Revolutions. In England, the key advocates were Francis Bacon and Hobbes. Others were Edward Gibbon, Thomas Paine and William Godwin. In Scotland, David Hume and Adam Smith were the point men of the movement. Bacon, Descartes of France and Newton are credited with the development of science and philosophy. Descartes in particular was responsible for the emergence of methodical doubt.

These were the people with a firm belief in human progress and helped bring about the propagation rational principles. They argued that governments, traditions, religion and doctrines were subject to criticism and scrutiny in order to discover the ultimate truth. Although the role of Enlightenment in the event s that happened thereafter is usually contested, it is widely believed that it ushered in an era of intellectual liberation, which came to be known as the “Age of Reason” In France it is taken as the main catalyst of the Revolution in a series of political uprisings that saw the demise of the Old Regime in Europe.

It is also held responsible for rise in republicanism thought, especially in France. It also helped shape the ideas of liberal secular and democratic societies. 9. Abolition Abolition was a movement from 1830 to 1870, which advocated for the freedom of slaves, and the end of racial discrimination. The motives of the abolitionists varied from those who opposed slavery purely because of its unjust and inhumane nature, to those who opposed it on purely economics grounds, and were concerned on the effect of free labor in the south on the wages and prices in the north.

In the south, slavery produced the main workforce, so here abolition took a longer time to be accepted (Richard W. Bulliet et al) Some countries were resistant to the abolition of slave trade, key among them Portugal and Spain. The main force behind the anti/slave movement was Great Britain, which introduced various treaties seeking to end the practice. (Richard W. Bulliet et al) The abolitionist movement was successful because of rigorous campaigns by religious and political leaders. Some of the notable personalities against the practice include Olaudah Equiano, a former slave.

He wrote a book entitled “The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself” He traversed Britain, selling his book and giving abolitionist lectures. (Richard W. Bulliet et al) William Wilberforce, an English politician and philanthropist, after being elected to parliament in 1780 delivered a compelling speech to the House of Commons, against slavery. Afterwards, he repeatedly introduced the Abolition Bill until it was passed in 1807. Religious leaders were also on the frontline of abolition.

Among them is the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley, who published “Thoughts upon Slavery” in 1774 and was a powerful crusader against the practice. Some other figures also joined in the fight, an example being Simon Bolivar, who, inspired by the ideas of George Washington and Enlightenment protested against Spanish rule in 1811. He freed slaves who joined his forces and offered constitutional guarantees to emancipate slaves who were residents of Gran Columbia. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation that advocated for the slave trade in the U.

S. However it was not until 1865 that slave trade was completely abolished in the U. S after the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution and the end of the Civil War. This played a major role in ending slave trade in the Western Hemisphere. (Richard W. Bulliet et al) Another factor that greatly led to the abolition of slave trade was the industrialization and mechanization age that saw production shifting from labor intensive to capital intensive. The spread of Christianity also played another major role in the abolition of slave trade. (Richard W. Bulliet et al)

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