Important People of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution

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Chapter 18: Section 1 important people

Joseph Priestley

18th-century English chemist who discovered oxygen.

Antoine Lavoisier

"Father of modern chemistry," this man made many discoveries in chemistry including the discovery that even though matter may change shape and form, its mass remains the same.

Thomas Hobbes

Wrote Leviathian, believed that humans were naturally cruel, greedy, and selfish and that people enter a 'social contract' to keep from living the brutish life they would have in the "natural state."

John Locke

Believed that people were naturally reasonable and moral, and that all humans have natural rights. People form governments to protect these rights, and the best kind of government was one accepted by all people. He rejected absolute monarchy. He also set out the idea that people had a right to revolution.

Baron de Montesquieu

Sharp critic of absolute monarchy, set the idea of checks and balances to keep government from getting too powerful because he misunderstood Britain's government to be that way.

Francois Arouet

Took the name "Voltaire," used biting wit as a weapon to expose the abuses of his day. Targeted corrupt officials and idle aristocrats. With his pen, he battled inequality, injustice, and superstition. Detested slave trade and deplored religious prejudice.

Denis Diderot

Produced the 28 volume Encyclopedia.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Believed that people in their natural state were basically good, and society is what corrupted them. Wrote 'The Social Contract.'

Mary Wollstonecraft

Well-known British social critic. Accepted that a woman's first duty was to be a good mother, but that a woman should be able to decide what is in her own interest and should not be completely dependent on her husband.

Adam Smith

British economist who wrote 'The Wealth of Nations,' in which he argued that the free market should be allowed to regulate business activity. Strong supporter of laissez faire.

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