Comparing Henry David Thoreau's Resistance To Civil Government

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What makes a government and society moral and just has been a reoccurring question and issue throughout time. Henry David Thoreau, an American transcendentalist, stressed civil disobedience and greatly showed his disbeliefs on the Mexican-American War in his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government.” Through comparing the nation's political authority to a machine and not paying his taxes as a method of protest, Thoreau manages to coax the “true citizen” to stand up against unjust government. Martin Luther King, an American Baptist minister and activist, was a leader and an important part of the African-American Civil rights movement. He fought for black rights and stood up against authorities unjust treatment of his fellow black brothers and sisters. In his letter to the Alabama clergymen, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he disagrees and oppose their allegations made on Kings way of protest in dealing with the racial problems in Alabama. King, being a minister, makes numerous religious arguments and speaks upon the treatment African-Americans undergo daily. Thoreau and Dr. King,…show more content…
Dr. King explains, “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path” (King 2)? Likewise, Thoreau states, “I have paid a poll tax for six years, I was put in jail once on this account, for one night...” (Thoreau 9). Both men stood for something they did not believe in, cruel and unjust treatment and being asked to pay taxes on something you don't see reason in. Thoreau and Dr. King provide these methods of protest to further support their disagreements with authority. The methods were non-violent and yet the government unjustly imprisoned both activists and further mistreated King and his protesters. As Thoreau declared, “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” (Thoreau
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