Compare And Contrast Letter From Birmingham Jail And Civil Disobedience

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In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s essay, “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau essay “Civil Disobedience,” both share their opinions on social injustice and civil disobedience. They both believe that people can protest unfair and unjust laws imposed on them in a civil way. In addition, King and Thoreau are challenging the government with their essays, which they wrote after they got sent to jail. For protesting the treatment of blacks in Birmingham, Alabama, King spent eleven days in jail; Thoreau spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax. Both King and Thoreau’s essays present similar plans for a resolution. They try to convince their audience that they are doing the right thing by using the three appeals; however, they both approach their arguments differently. King and Thoreau both use ethos to make their arguments seem credible. At the beginning of “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” King announces he is “president of the Southern…show more content…
King writes to the eight clergymen who were critical of his protests and to the indifferent people of the United States. In the essay, he claims that he has done nothing wrong by protesting peacefully. In paragraph 11, King says “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He is saying that freedom is something they have to fight for because the authorities will not give it to them. He is directing this statement at the clergymen while reaching the apathetic people of the United States. However, Thoreau writes to the common American people because they are directly affected by the government. He is trying to connect with the people willing to take a stand and speak out against the government with him. Also, he is writing to the people who oppose the Mexican war and slavery. Regardless of who King and Thoreau were writing too, they both delivered their arguments in an effective
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