18th Century America

In Europe, the 18th century was about Progress. Technological advances were only one aspect of that progress, the most important elements being intellectual and spiritual. The Age of Enlightenment was at its peak, and philosophers envisioned a future time when the knowledge, virtue and diligence of Mankind would usher in a golden era of educated populations working together for self-actualization and evolutionary development.

It's easy to think the American Colonies, and later the fledgling United States of America, were different, that the distance of oceans removed them from the influence of secular humanism. In fact, the Founding Fathers were thoroughly sons of the Enlightenment, and it was their commitment to the same kind of Progress espoused by men like Hegel and Voltaire that led them to break with England.

Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were probably the most outspoken defenders of Enlightenment idealism, but there were plenty of others. There were also plenty of Christians, men whom today's Enlightenment heirs would prefer we forgot, but the fact remains that the American political experiment was largely undertaken with the goal of reshaping government to advance the people further on the path toward perfection.

Essentially, the primary tenets of the Enlightenment were that man can know all there is to know, that through education all men can acquire enough knowledge to become virtuous and produtive, and that together we can all make the world a better place. It's basically a mirror-image of the Christian doctrine of history: that man is helpless, that only God knows everything, and that history is moving along the path God set for it to fulfill His ultimate ends and glorify Himself through Jesus Christ.

As in any era, God raised men to proclaim the latter truth despite the humanism engulfing so much of Western society. The wisdom of God is foolishness to those who are perishing (as He says in His Word), and many rejected the calls to repentence, but there were plenty who accepted and turned to Christ, enough to start a revival called the Great Awakening.

Men like George Whitefield, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards preached the Gospel in direct opposition to the wisdom of this world that was spreading so quickly and thoroughly. Even today, their sermons are remembered and read, and even today men and women are converted through their doctrinally sound and spiritually edifying writings.

In the end, the tension between Christianity and Enlightenment rationalism that swept the newly settled North American continent was indicative of the same battle that has raged ever since Adam declared war on God by eating the forbidden fruit. For Christians, the most important event in 18th century America was the Great Awakening, not the AmericanWar for Independence. It's essential when studying the period that we keep this in perspective, appreciating the good things the Revolution and its advocates accomplished while measuring everything agains the truth of Scripture.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

Did you find this review helpful?
26 Items found Print
Active Filters: Library Binding
1620, Year of the Pilgrims
by Genevieve Foster
from Charles Scribner's Sons
History Reference/Biography for 7th-10th grade
in New World Colonization (Location: HISA-17NW)
Battle of Valcour Bay
Triangle Histories: The Revolutionary War
by Scott Ingram
from Blackbirch Press
for 3rd-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$4.00 (2 in stock)
Battle of Yorktown
Events That Shaped America
by Dale Anderson, Sabrina Crewe
from Gareth Stevens Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Christian History of the American Revolution
by Verna Hall & Rosalie Slater
from Foundation for American Christian Education
in Principle Approach (Location: HSR-METPA)
$28.00 (1 in stock)
Colonial Living
by Edwin Tunis
from World Publishing Company
for 7th-10th grade
in Vintage & Collectible (Location: VIN-COL)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Declaration of Independence
We the People
by Michael Burgan
from Compass Point Books
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys
Landmark #66
by Slater Brown
from Random House
for 5th-9th grade
in American Landmark Books (Location: VIN-LAND)
First Book of the American Revolution
by Richard B. Morris
from Franklin Watts
for 3rd-5th grade
in Vintage & Collectible (Location: VIN-COL)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
George Washington
by Verna Hall
from Foundation for American Christian Education
Biography for 10th-Adult
in Principle Approach (Location: HSR-METPA)
$42.95
Glorious Days, Dreadful Days
Stories of America
by Philippa Kirby
from Steck-Vaughn Company
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$5.50 (1 in stock)
Good Women of a Well-Blessed Land
by Brandon Marie Miller
from Lerner Publishing Group
for 5th-8th grade
in Colonial America (1690-1765) (Location: HISA-17COL)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Lafayette, French-American Hero
from Garrard Publishing Company
for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$14.00 (1 in stock)
Liberty Bell
Primary Sources of American Symbols
by Jennifer Silate
1st edition from PowerKids Press
for 3rd-6th grade
in Landmarks & Symbols of the United States (Location: HISA-LAND)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
New England Primer
from Vision Forum
for 1st-3rd grade
in Miscellaneous Phonics (Location: PHO-MISC)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
New Nation
by Betsy Maestro
from HarperCollins
for 1st-4th grade
in New Nation (1783-1800) (Location: HISA-18NN)
Picture Book of John Hancock
by David A. Adler, Michael S. Adler
from Holiday House
for 2nd-5th grade
in Clearance: Biographies (Location: CLE-BIO)
Printers
Colonial American Craftsmen
by Leonard Everett Fisher
from Franklin Watts
for 3rd-6th grade
in Vintage & Collectible (Location: VIN-COL)
$5.00 (2 in stock)
South Fork Rangers
by Manly Wade Wellman
from Ives Washburn, Inc.
for 5th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Squanto: Friend of the White Men
by Clyde Robert Bulla
from Thomas Y. Crowell &Co.
for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Story of the Salem Witch Trials
by Zachary Kent
from Children's Press
for 4th-6th grade
in Cornerstones of Freedom (Location: VIN-CORN)
Thirteen Colonies
by Marc Tyler Nobleman
from Compass Point Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Colonial America (1690-1765) (Location: HISA-17COL)
$3.50 (2 in stock)
True to the Old Flag
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
Way of Eagles
by Clifford Lindsey Alderman
from Doubleday & Company
for 6th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Weavers
by Leonard Everett Fisher
from Franklin Watts
for 4th-6th grade
in Colonial America (1690-1765) (Location: HISA-17COL)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
What Are You Figuring Now?
by Jeri Ferris
from First Avenue Editions
for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
With Wolfe in Canada
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
$17.97