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).
Words are the most compelling drugs used by humanity. In “Resistance to Civil Government” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Thoreau and King showed that if words are used properly in society, they can make a difference. Injustice is a huge deal for both Thoreau and King. They talked about their beliefs and told people to stand up for themselves in the government. If they really want something, they need to speak up, no matter what the consequence will be. Thoreau and King’s beliefs are similar as they both believe men are inherently moral, but have been ruined by society, and a natural state is necessary; and they respected the law and saw the good and bad in the government.
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
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,
Thoreau's mother describes him as “[a]lways [doing] the right thing, [e]ven if it’s wrong” (94). Collectively, direct and indirect characterization through these quotes clearly indicate how Thoreau seeks to make every decision based upon his own personal beliefs of its morality, independent from societal pressure, and to act upon it
Henry David Thoreau begins his essay Resistance to Civil Government, also known as Civil Disobedience, by stating that governing forces rarely demonstrates itself as useful and that they obtain power from the majority of people simply because the majority is the strongest group, not because their viewpoint is the most reasonable. Thoreau argues that government only exists for the sole purpose of guaranteeing freedom for individuals. He states that he simply wishes for a better government, not to abolish it. The rule of expediency, in Thoreau’s case, can be defined as government officials putting themselves before citizens so that they themselves can be more practical and convenient. Thoreau believes the rule of expediency is an unsatisfactory
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
Both King and Thoreau address these arguments in similar and divergent fashions through the use of purpose, and persuasive writing styles.
He also explains that we, as American citizens, not only have the right, but the duty to rebel against the government. However, because of the enslavement of about one-sixth of the population and with the invasion of Mexico, he speaks about not letting it continue any longer and to stop the unjust of it all. Thoreau furthermore exclaims in his essays that the Americans citizens should have followed what power they thought was right, like their conscience, instead of the wrong of the government. Thoreau ultimately sent the message that if following what was right and following your heart really believes in like the right of doing right; then let it be and so live life in spite of what one thinks.
In the play, "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail," by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Henry David Thoreau, the protagonist of the play, is shown to advocate self-awareness and making your own decisions based on your own beliefs. As expressed in the maxim, the ideals of transcendentalism and individuality, regardless of society's expectations, is evidently shown in the text. In the play, Henry David Thoreau is thrown in jail for one night because he refuses to pay taxes that support the Mexican-American War. Although it was considered an American duty to pay taxes to support the country's decisions, Thoreau did not believe that the Mexican-American War was the right direction towards prosperity, so he risked the consequence of prison rather than succumb to the directions given to him which would falsify his own ideals.
3rd Quote that supports the Topic Sentence: “The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to- for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well- is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it.” (13) EXPLANATION of 3rd Quote: Thoreau will listen to the government as long as it is just to everyone. It cannot have any right over his body and property, but what he surrenders to it. INTRO TO Research That Supports/Helps Explain
Another famous essay Thoreau’s is Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience was published in 1849. In this essay he talks about his belief on how individuals shouldn’t blindly follow the government if they thought the rules and laws are unjust. This was partly motivated by Thoreau’s hatred towards slavery and the government support of it. Thoreau thought we would be better without the government as he mentions in the first paragraph of Civil Disobedience, “that government is the best which governs not at all.”
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.
Thus that a person ought to do as he does and not agree to pay taxes to the state that is in support of such evil customs or practices. While both King and Thoreau triumph in their establishment of a firm perception of what they strongly have faith in, they both are successful in their efforts to persuade through different means. Regarding the manner in which King draws emotional appeal through passionate speech, we also see with Thoreau when he makes apparent that he is devoted in what he stands for. Thus attracting more appeal through being more troubled and concerned instead of being innocently optimistic and hopeful. Nevertheless, similarities weigh against differences as both King and Thoreau give reliability to the moral
Thoreau uses an aggressive and assertive tone to call his readers to action. He starts his essay by attacking the government and criticizing many of its policies. He declares, “That government is best which governs not at all” (WOI, 305). He goes on to write, “yet this government never of itself furthered… has not sometimes got in its way” (WOI, 306). Thoreau perceives the government as being useless.