The period leading up to the Declaration of Independence is shaped by Enlightenment ideas, geography, and conflict. The Enlightenment ideas should be studied for their influence on individual and natural rights of citizens. The geographic separation of the colonies from the English Crown by the Atlantic Ocean allowed for the free flow of these revolutionary, and at times radical, ideas. Conflicts abounded in this period from within and without. Students should examine how the Enlightenment ideas, economics, conflicts, and geography come together in the Declaration of Independence and ultimately the American Revolution.