Enlightened Absolutism & The American Revolution (L60)

1.) What was “enlightened absolutism”?

Enlightened absolutism was what is was called when absolutist rulers adopted certain Enlightenment ideals; this was also commonly found to involve direct friendships between rulers and Enlightenment thinkers. For example, there was a tight knit friendship between Voltaire and Frederick II of Prussia.

2.) What was the constitutional dispute between the colonists and the British government that led to the American Revolution? Give specific examples of how this constitutional dispute was evident in particular events.

The constitutional dispute that led to the American Revolution stemmed from the French government’s undermining of the preestablished colonial system of self government. The colonists political convictions were founded on their faith in the 17th century theory of the constitution, which consisted of customary restraints on governmental power; whereas the idea of the British constitution had evolved to include parliamentary supremacy by the 18th century.
This constant power struggle was evident, expressed during many events; one of the major happenings having been the Stamp Act in 1765. This was a large tax imposed on people who were investing in any types of documents, or anything that had to be printed; from playing cards, to paperwork. There were three main forms of resistance from these taxes, which included boycott, direct action and intimidation, and official remonstrances. This eventually led to the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, but was quickly followed up by the issuance of the Declaratory Act, which stated that Parliament retains the power to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever”. This only made it clear to the colonists that they would have to fight harder than ever for their rights; and that is exactly what they did.

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