Henry David Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” (first presented in 1848 and first published 1849) insists, — “That government is best which governs least”, or alternatively, — “That government is best which governs not at all.” Thoreau develops and supports his thesis statement by explaining what government is at best (an expedient) and usually is (inexpedient), and by giving a specific and current example to his readers. The author’s purpose was to educate the masses regarding civil disobedience, teaching them not only that it’s allowed, but that it’s a duty upon them in order to create an ideal government or even world. Thoreau’s intended audience is clearly the people who, as Thoreau himself said, “would not have consented to
“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
EXPLANATION of 1st Quote: Thoreau thought that people should be able to do what they thought was right to them, and not what was right to the government.
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
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.
Individuals lay the foundation of America. The Founding Fathers of this unique nation broke their allegiance with Great Britain to create an improved governing body. They desired an individual-centered authority as opposed to Britain’s monarchy, which ruled with tyranny. These Founding Fathers experienced a neglectful democratic monarchy that cared little about the ethical treatment of its people. The domineering actions of Britain challenged these historic individuals to form a new cultural identity. This new American identity opposes injustice. Justice stands as an important moral and political concept. A prominent component of justice is liberty, which frees society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's lifestyle. Another
Henry David Thoreau committed a crime in the name of civil disobedience and thus for such disobedience was imprisoned. Henry David Thoreau took a stand for what he believed, his sacrifice was significant for these 3 reasons. First, Mr. Thoreau had strong moral values which made him oppose slavery and the Mexican American war. Secondly, Thoreau’s act of civil disobedience was a powerful statement in which he peacefully refused to pay his poll tax. Finally, Mr. Thoreau willingly accepted the consequences of his actions in order to prove his point.
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 protests in an active way on the one hand, since he renounces the government’s law of taxation, but he does so in a non violent manner. This is precisely why the essay is called “Civil Disobedience”. Libertarianism, hence, advocates individuals to be just towards themselves and towards others by not harming them, to be active by living life consciously, and lastly, it advocates free will versus determinism, since people are free to make their own decisions which are based on their own personal sets of beliefs; “a wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority”. (page 777) In an imaginary society where people would simply confirm to the government’s rules and laws without taking any stand, one could argue that those individuals have no free will and therefore are deterministically bound to obey the government. Thoreau strongly rejects to this sort of passivity and says “ I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion”. (page
Thoreau starts by using parallel structure in the beginning of his essay. For instance, Thoreau starts by writing “I heartily accept the motto,-“That government is best which governs least;”and then clarifies that his true belief is “That government is best which governs not at all.” (Thoreau 224). Thoreau states that government is nothing but an imaginary idea that people choose to live by, yet this imaginary thing we call government is easy to manipulate, that one person can easily bid the government to do their will. While we believe that government is made to serve the people in which it governs, it is mainly used as a source to gain power. Thoreau gives examples of slavery practice and the Mexican-American war to establish his point further. He asserts that the government itself becomes an obstacle between achieving its purpose, the purpose for which it was created. However, Thoreau makes it clear that he is against abolishing the government,
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,
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. About a century later, Dr. King, inspired by Thoreau exercised civil disobedience to fight for justice for African Americans. After reading Dr. King’s “letter from Birmingham Jail, one can conclude that he has been strongly inspired by Thoreau. Although both authors believe
To Americans and many others around the world, the U.S. is the face of what should be a “free society,” not including every society’s minor flaws. Maybe it’s because I’m barely entering the brink of my social awareness as a U.S. citizen or maybe is it more due to recent threats to our freedom as Americans, but now more than in the past decade or so, the media has brought the image of huge protests, riots, and demonstrations into the spotlight. And unfortunately, more often than not, many of these events result in violence, aggression, and opposition.
One of the greatest leaders that greatly impacted society and still influences culture today is Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was an advocate for peaceful resistance, he believed in standing up against injustices with peace. On the contrary, there is another great author who impacted society with his literature, and his name is Henry David Thoreau. Henry Thoreau believed in a much different manner of resisting in society. He believed in nonconforming and breaking the law. His literature greatly impacted how society views nonconformity today. Gandhi and Thoreau have many similarities and differences about the way things in society should run, and how the government should govern.