Every country has key turning points in its history that determine its present stature, the degree of freedom or oppression, and how it is viewed in the world. However, for the United States the major turning points in American history would be those in world history that enabled its eventual existence.
Turning Points In American History Explains Unique US Perspective
The reason such world events are significant is that the United States has always been the most unique country in the world. Nowhere do you have the combinations of freedoms that exist here or—the still considered cockeyed idea—a government by the people under a constitution of sharply limited government powers. Moreover, consider the strong support for private property, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the fantastic economic institution known as capitalism. And, where else do you find a country that promotes individualism to the extent that we do, notwithstanding the current focus on egalitarianism. Our constitution and most of our laws are organized around protecting individual rights as exemplified by the first ten amendments of our constitution.
Therefore, consider the following turning points in American history. Over 2300 years ago Aristotle, in contrast to Plato, said there is only one physical reality. It’s the one in which we exist and it exists independent of our thoughts. Moreover, Aristotle said that the objects in reality exist independently of one another and act according to their own specific nature. How heretic. Plato would have flipped out as would the later Christians.
Turning Points in American History Through Philosophy
Without Aristotle, Western Civilization would not have made it past the medieval period. It would have stagnated after the Roman Empire collapsed having been captured by a Christian dominated mysticism and superstition that stifled progress, intellectual growth, and trapped humans to—with luck—a thirty-year existence. Thus, no turning points in American history would have been possible because there would have been no renaissance, no science, engineering or technology, and no industrial revolution.
In the thirteenth century, however, Thomas Aquinas changed all that. At the time, the Catholic Church dominated everything making sure that everyone knew God was directly responsible for all life, growth, and development. Yet, at about the same time, after Aristotle’s works were rediscovered, Aquinas liberalized God’s presence. No longer was God directly responsible for everything. Instead, Aquinas essentially said that God was not responsible for day to day human existence, that men were responsible for their own existence, productivity, and happiness. Only later, at death, would God get back in the picture. Thus, Aquinas is responsible for lessening the influence of the Catholic Church and expanding the influence of men to believe they could understand and control their destiny. Aquinas was a major influence toward the renaissance and represented another turning point American history.
Turning Points in American History Began With Science
Without Francis Bacon in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and his belief in empiricism, induction and the scientific method, there would have been no industrial revolution? Bacon is the father of the modern scientific method and he influences science, engineering and technology even today.
Without John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes a U.S. Constitution might not have been possible. Hobbes, of course, was influential in advancing the ideas of individual rights, the natural equality of all men, and representative government, while Rousseau with his social contract believed in a society that, under the general will, would guarantee that individuals would not be subordinated to the will of others. Without these three philosophers, particularly Locke, who is considered the father of classical liberalism and could have written the U.S. constitution himself, if any country could have existed at all in North America instead of the repressed colonies under England, it would have been another repressive monarchy, or a hodgepodge of separate territories ruled by whoever was king of the hill.
The only remaining turning point in American History is Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Once signed and adopted, there was no turning back. It was the final turning points in American History.