“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” Thoreau says that you should not participate in such evils. This would include not being a part of a corrupted government or institution. He says that the United States is a perfect example of an unjust government. Thoreau believes this because of the United States support of slavery and aggressive war approach. Thoreau has ideas on how to reform from within the
The purpose of Thoreau's "Resistance to Civil Government" is to make an argument between what is right and what is convenient. He describes the dangers of listening and agreeing with everything a government says, or any large group of people, instead of paying attention to one's own conscience. Thoreau relates this idea to one personal experience he had when he was forced to spend a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax. He describes how the instance made him feel and how it differentiated from the way he saw his village. Before he understood how his everyday actions were similar to his knowledge of a larger democracy and government. His speech can be broken down into smaller parts that first emphasized the hard facts, then secondly,
Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 born and raised in Concord, was a popular student in Harvard. Despite his financial and health deformities he was able to graduate from the university. By 1837 America was facing an economic depression and jobs were not easily available. Thoreau began to write poems and essays of transcendentalism to escape from the development and also to emphasize on nature. Therefore, he spent two years in Walden Pond (Schneider, 2013).
Thoreau’s view on the society as he states, “In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well” go to show that it was harder to have individuality and to refuse the governments ways. Now-a-days the practice of civil disobedience has allowed citizens to practice non-conformity with the protection of amendments but back then while the nation was just growing they had to have more power and that, “so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God that the established government be obeyed, and no longer" as quoted by Paley. The society was most likely pushed towards acceptance of the government and weren’t as self-reliant to make change in their
In Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he explains his beliefs, criticizes the issues he sees within the government, and proposes how we should handle these injustices especially after experiencing jail. Thoreau didn't pay poll taxes, which supported a war and slavery itself (Costly, n.d.). Thoreau regards that the government shouldn’t completely interfere with our lives, but should not be completely done away with. Also, that it is not used correctly and tends to only benefit the majority who may or may not have logical or just views. People are supposed to do what they think is right and not go against their conscience, but to follow it and not what is proposed by the majority. He also believes that a person should distance themselves from government, especially if it is unjust and should refuse to follow such institutions that go against one’s beliefs of doing wrong acts. Although Thoreau affirms we should rebel against what is wrong, we should also be peaceful when doing it like he does, for example, and not participate in passive waiting for something that may be deemed as unjust to change. Do what justice requires no matter what but always be aware of the consequences and do not do unjustly acts when refusing
He objected the injustices of war and slavery, and practiced civil disobedience in his daily life. In the time of Thoreau writing Civil Disobedience, many people believed revolution against the government had not been necessary since the time of the American Revolution. However, Thoreau believes that resisting an abusive government is especially important at this point in time considering that, "a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law." According to Thoreau, it is the duty of American citizens to promptly revolutionize against slavery and the Mexican-American War, which have both been supported by the corrupted American
Throughout history there have been many political changes that are either supported, or not, by citizens. In the given passage from, "Civil Disobedience," by Thoreau, a perspective of disagreeing with the government ways, is provided. Thoreau explains how a government should be in comparison to how it really is by utilizing his words to set the tone and mode, imagery to achieve his audience's understanding, and diction to make his writing scholarly.
Throughout the writing of “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau often referred back to his idea that he supported which was “That government is best which governs not at all.” (Thoreau) In the passage, Thoreau believed that the government does not have a conscience. He talked about not wanting to pay the government poll tax, which in result, caused him to be thrown into jail. A poll tax is just a tax on a person for existing, therefore, everyone had to pay the same amount regardless of the value of their possessions. This poll tax was for prosecuting war on Mexico, which Thoreau disagreed with, therefore, he did not pay it.
In the 1830’s, a group called the transcendentalist arose. It lasted from 1836 to just about 1861. Some people were upset about how the Unitarian church was running things so instead people turned to nature. Basically they believed that any individual was more powerful than any institution. When they created this transcendentalist club they also created rules to go with it. Their rules were basically their beliefs. They believed in an individual’s inner soul leads to the truth. Individual relationships with God was much bigger than anything you could get in a church. Nature played a huge roll in their beliefs. They found the goodness of nature everywhere. To them, all we needed to survive was our mind. The mind is where they
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is a dissertation written by American abolitionist, author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau published by Elizabeth Peabody in the Aesthetic Papers in 1849. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was born and lived almost his life in Concord, Massachusetts. After finishing public and private school in Concord he attended the prestige Harvard University. He excelled at Harvard despite leaving school for several months due to health and financial setbacks. Mr. Thoreau graduated in the top half of his class in 1837. Mr. Thoreau argues that people should not allow any government to control or atrophy their thoughts or beliefs. Mr. Thoreau was an also remained a devoted abolitionist and has written
Thoreau refused to support the war with Mexico and in protest he refused to pay a tax, which is deemed illegal by the government. He believed the war to be unjust and stated that even though a law is a law it might not always be lawful. Sometimes we must do what we think is right in our own morality regardless of the
Thoreau used powerful speech in his essay about the act of civil disobedience, which he himself had done. Publication was not Thoreau’s only approach in his urge for change. Thoreau targeted the legislative system through his refused to pay taxes. He believed that if because he does not support the ideas of the government then he must not pay the taxes. This non-violent resistance to obey taxation brought about the attention of the government. Thoreau was imprisoned for his violation. Being in prison to him seemed like a useless punishment because the State, the real danger, “did not know its friends from foes” (Thoreau, Paragraph 26) Thoreau makes a point to mention that it is not because he is against any particular item on the bill but he refuses taxes because he wishes “to refuse allegiance to the State” (Thoreau, Paragraph 35) This is his version of a peaceful protest because trying to make change with a vote will do nothing. One of his main problems made him share a common motive with Turner and Douglass, he did not believe in slavery. This piece is the most powerful approach of all reviewed through the semester. He was able to influence many people and raise the usage of non-violent refusal to cooperate with
Henry Thoreau believed that the government was being unjust and he proposed the means of justice by using a more dry ethical and emotional appeal to prevail his main idea. In Civil Disobedience,
Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 (here is a modern day picture of his birthplace). He was born and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, a quaint town about twenty miles outside of Boston. He lived there with his three siblings, John Jr., Helen, and Sophia. His mother, Cynthia Dunbar, rented out rooms of their home to help earn more money for the family of 6. His father, John Thoreau, owned and worked in his own pencil factory. His father’s pencils were recognized as America’s best pencils during the 1800’s, due to his study of German pencil making techniques and his great engineering skills. His eldest brother, John Jr., began to teach at Harvard so Henry would later be able to attend the university. There he studied the classics,
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” (“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”). Thoreau lived his whole life trying to figure out what really matters to humanity. His personality was quite different than others. He was into individualism and he separated himself from society to live on his own and focus on becoming self-reliant.Thoreau’s seperation from society resulted in him being seperated from society and not needing anyone's help. Learning to live and succeed by himself without influences from people was his goal. He believed in the importance of oneself and the government took that away. Henry David Thoreau, an American poet and novelist used his life experiences and thoughts to emphasize nature,