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Maria Bernier

HIST 151


Portfolio Reflection
During this course, not only did I learn a great deal about early America History, but I

learned the true value of why it is important to understand the past. History is usually one of

those subjects many feel is not necessary to learn because it does not impact their everyday life

but that is far from correct. There are many different forces that drive people to make a change,

and throughout this course we focused on the various themes that influenced individuals to want

to make a change to contribute towards society. The theme that stuck out the most while

learning about early American history was religion and morals.

John Locke was an individual who was influenced by morals in early American history.

John Locke was one of the many Enlightenment thinkers during the Age of Reason who

contributed towards the individual right that we have today. His ideas of Natural Rights

effected peoples views on politics in early America. John Locke believed that everyone is born

with certain rights that the government cannot take away, they were life, liberty, and property.

This moral idea of everyone having certain rights influenced those who wrote the Constitution

and granted us those rights. John Locke took action and spread his moral ideas to many

Americans, he saw that the government was not restricted to what they could take away from

people and thought about the morals behind that. His moral beliefs influenced him and others to

implement moral reasoning and ideas towards moving in a positive direction as a nation.
John Locke was not the only individual who was influenced by religion and morals,

Thomas Jefferson was also influenced by these same themes as he contributed towards the

American society. Thomas Jefferson, who was a vast influence on religious freedom, coined the

saying separation of church and state to summarize the implications of the First Amendment

which granted freedom of religion. He strongly believed that religion and the government should

be separated from each other to avoid corruption between them. As mentioned before, he also

had a great influence on religious freedom. In Jeffersons eyes, religion should not have any

impact the government and the government should not have any influence on peoples religious


Lastly, another individual who used morals during his contribution to the American

society was James Maddison. James Maddison based many of this ideas and thoughts from

various enlightenment thinkers while drafting the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights consists of

10 amendments that promise certain rights to all citizens. Maddison used moral reasoning to

draft these amendments that would ensure everyone is granted the rights that they deserve.

According to the text, the Bill of Rights stand as both the symbol and foundation of American

ideals of individual liberty, limited government, and the rule of law.

Religion and Morals are touchy and tricky subjects, but as mentioned before many of our

American ancestors used them to act responsibly and contribute towards society. Learning about

our American ancestors that used religion and moral to guide them to make change has

influenced my sense of responsibility towards society. Our ancestors took a large risk when they

expressed their views on government in concerns to religion and moral reasoning, but they made

tremendous changes to our country. After learning about how large of a role religion and morals

had in many historical events in early American history, it made me realize that it is still
important to analyze the morals behind current events and to question them if they do not seem

right just as John Locke and others did. Although everyone has different moral and religious

views, it is still important to express your ideas. All of our ancestors who used morals and

religion to influence change had no idea if people would side with them or not, but they took and

chance and contributed towards society.