The Enlightenment Mini-lesson

Lesson Plan

The Enlightenment was a period of time, starting around 1715, when people developed new ideas about human existence, including people's basic rights and the purpose of government. When our Founding Fathers created a government for the new United States, they embraced many Enlightenment ideas.


  • Analyze the ideas behind America’s founding documents.
  • Identify the ideas of various Enlightenment thinkers who influenced America’s founders.
  • Recognize how various individuals and groups contributed to the development of the U.S. government.
  • Big Ideas: salons, Age of Reason, natural rights, state of nature, social contract, consent of the governed, republicanism, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Locke