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
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).
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,
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
“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,
In his essay of Civil Disobedience, Thoreau exclaims many social issues that were going on around that time that also inspired his essay. The social issues that were going on around the time were the Relocation of the Native-Americans, which ties in with Manifest Destiny, slavery, poll taxes, Mexican-American war, and many more. Henry Thoreau didn’t believe in what the government was doing and how they were running American. Manifest Destiny was a big concept during all those times which really triggered the Domino effect with disagreement of how the Mexicans were being forced out of their territory which eventually led up to the Mexican-American
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.
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 stays true to his own opinions against the United States involvement in the Mexican-American War and his value of individualism enables him to put that belief into action through civil disobedience, despite it being a daring and unheard-of act that went against the prevailing views of his community. Although others such as Emerson and Sam urge him to pay the tax and go along with the societal norm, he refuses to comply with a requirement that went against his viewpoint. Thoreau regards the action of “going along” with extreme distaste, comparing it to “ only breathing in and never breathing out! A man can suffocate on courtesy” (13). Exercising what he saw to be the unalienable right, or even obligation, of the individual to develop original thought and determine right or wrong according to their true self, he maintains his own stance even if it meant being arrested and imprisoned.
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
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
Peaceful resistance is a necessity and an integral part of a society because without the ability to peacefully resist the society is not truly free. The use of peaceful resistance has been a common way of expressing a person or group of peoples ideals since Henry David Thoreau wrote his essay called Civil Disobedience in 1849. Thoreau was a famous American writer and philosopher, and the essay talks of how he believes people need to put one’s morals and ideas over laws they may find unjust (Saxby). This is the basis and definition of what peaceful resistance is. The United States Constitution puts emphasis on the individual and if an individual believes in an ideal that goes against a law, they should be able to peacefully resist, especially
Civil disobedience is the deliberate action against an unjust law to invoke a positive change in government and society. Civilians have the right to refute these types of unjust laws to eliminate inequality and government’s unjust nature by following conscience before laws for moral guidance. As demonstrated in Antigone, this is depicted by the daughter of Oedipus, who disobeys Creon’s law for the greater good because of the laws unjust nature. In Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist, promotes this concept as well through his philosophical standpoint of the flaws of the government. Lastly, in Dr. King’s letter he qualifies the idea of civilians disobeying their government through non violent campaigns to stand up against
10/27/15 Henry David Thoreau is known as one of the most influential writers of all time. His ideology is idolized by many writers including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In civil disobedience, Thoreau expresses his strong dislike for the United States government and his opposition to slavery and the Mexican War. Thoreau believes everyone has the responsibility to fight against unjust laws. He spent a night in jail because he refused to pay taxes to support the Mexican war.
People could portray anything in different ways. Thoreau and King both have differences in portraying civil disobedience. In Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” he begins writing about how the government rarely shows how powerful it is and instead acquires power from the people. King used civil disobedience as a means of effectuating government change and used his courage to protest against discrimination through the act of civil disobedience.