Enlightenment Generation

Last Updated: Mar. 12, 2008

The Enlightenment Generation (Artist, born 1674–1700) grew up as protected children when families were close, youth risk discouraged, and good educations and well-connected marriages highly prized. Coming of age, their rising elite eased into a genteel Williamsburg-style town-and-planter prosperity. As young adults, this “inheritor generation” provided the colonies’ first large cadre of credentialed professionals, political managers, and plantation administrators. In midlife, their Walpolean leadership style betrayed a fascination with youth, whose spiritual zeal they both welcomed and feared. Many elders lived to witness (in the Stamp Act furor) a repudiation of the tea-drinking politeness and rococo complexity on which their provincial world rested. (COLONIAL: William Shirley, John Peter Zenger, Alexander Spotswood, Samuel Johnson, William Byrd II, Elisha Cooke, Jr.; FOREIGN: George Frederick Handel, Voltaire)

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