5 Questions

(Q1) -Which statement provides the best definition of the Enlightenment of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and America?

A)  “Enlightenment!” is what Benjamin Franklin exclaimed to his son, the day he discovered how electricity works by observing a lightning strike. Thereafter, that became the expression used by scientists and inventors.

B)  The Enlightenment is the burst of intellectual activity in Europe and the colonies that, among other things, caused an increase in the respect for education and value of information.


C)  When settlers arrived on the shores of the American colonies, they were said to have reached an “Enlightened” place. Therefore, the mass migration of immigrants to the colonies is known as the Enlightenment.

D)  The Enlightenment refers to “seeing the light,” as many colonists did in the eighteenth century as a Protestant religious revival swept through the colonies.

(Q2) – What was the purpose of Poor Richard’s Almanack

A)   Poor Richard’s Almanack shared weather and other information relevant to farmers, and also entertained readers with stories and wise sayings.

B)   Poor Richard’s Almanack targeted toward the poor of society, attempted to help them accept the truth of their position.


C)   Poor Richard’s Almanack recorded the births and marriages that occurred in the city of Philadelphia during the colonial era.

D)   Poor Richard’s Almanack is the written record of all Enlightenment era inventions and ideas.

(Q3) – When Poor Richard discusses the invention of the telescope and the orbits of planets around the sun, what does he assume about his readership? 

A)   Poor Richard assumes his readers may be in the market for telescopes, and he is an investor in the company that makes them.

B)   They are ignorant and need to be taught how the world works.

D)    His readers are open to discussions of Natural Law and astronomical sciences.

D)   Americans have always loved the occult, and Poor Richard’s Almanack was the first place a wide group of people had access to that type of literature.


(Q4) – To the historian, the printed sermon by Jonathan Edwards (Document 2) provides evidence that 


A)  Colonial Americans firmly believed in reason and scientific observation as a way of understanding and surviving in their world.

B)  there was a demand for transcripts of powerful sermons among the colonial population.

C)  Jonathan Edwards was a religious fanatic.

D)  only preachers held the power of the written word and the gospel in their hands.

(Q5) – Compare the “Urban Web” and the development of print culture in colonial America discussed in Chapter 3 to the way that information is spread and acquired in the twenty-first century. Was information a more valuable resource then because it was so much more difficult than it is now to access so much information? 


Quiz Instructions

Think about: In what ways did the Enlightenment and Great Awakening shape American thought?

The first printing press arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1638, at the recently founded Harvard College. It is hard to imagine that this wooden machine could wield enough power to change a culture and affect the history of a place and its people. By the mid-eighteenth century, the existence of printing presses in the colonies helped inform, entertain, and bring American colonists together culturally. We live in the world of instant communication, where the written word has the ability to be dispersed to millions of people instantaneously. However, the force of shared printed materials during the colonial period, and the ideas they conveyed, cannot be underestimated. The printed word provided wide public access to very powerful ideas.

Benjamin Franklin, thought of as the founder of the Enlightenment in America, famously believed in the ability of educated men to gain understanding of the natural world through scientific observation. Via his printing presses and publishing business, Franklin himself did much to spread Enlightenment sensibilities throughout the colonies in the form of a Farmer’s Almanac. The power of the press was also put to use in service of the spread of new religious ideas, such as those espoused during America’s first Great Awakening, a religious movement that caught fire in the colonies, in large part due to a literate population, receptive to learning about preachers who challenged the established British churches. They learned about those preachers and their sermons because of the growing access to printed materials from multiple sources, not just the established churches


Document 1( https://d1lexza0zk46za.cloudfront.net/coursepacks/history/amnar11/imgs/ch03_poorrichard.png)  is from Poor Richard’s Almanack. Benjamin Franklin began publishing the almanac, under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, in 1732. By 1753, the date of the attached excerpt, nearly every household in colonial America had a copy. The humorous sayings, advice, and educational information became part of the shared experience in the colonies, due to the availability of printed materials. The fact that Benjamin Franklin was the author and publisher of these almanacs helped spread Enlightenment sensibility, reason, and values.

Document 2 ( https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1053&context=etas ) is an excerpt of a sermon given by Jonathan Edwards in 1741 that was later transcribed and distributed as pamphlets, allowing the words of Edwards to reach far beyond his congregation.


1. Read Chapter 3 of the textbook, with special attention to the section on the Enlightenment in America, pages 144-147.

2. Analyze the documents for this exercise.

3. Answer the questions that follow these documents.