Thoreaus 1846 essay on civil disobedience

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Essay

Thoreau argued that the government must end its unjust actions to earn the right to collect taxes from its citizens. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offence never contemplated by government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does any one think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency.

In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.

There are really no blows to be given by him but defensive ones.

Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience”

I will breathe after my own fashion. He argues that the government does not always act in the interest of the people and continues to do so because it carries a large power over the people.

It does not educate. Hence slavery, no matter how legal and it remained legal untilwas always unjust in its violation of the integrity and divine soul of the enslaved.

In the progression from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy to democracy, Thoreau observes an evolution in government toward greater expression of the consent of the governed. Why does it not cherish its wise minority. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

He speaks favorably about a government that does not intrude in citizens' lives. This is the whole history of "My Prisons. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.

The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably the neatest apartment in the town.

This causes emotional impact because neighbors are someone you should trust and create a relationship with. Inthe United States declared war against Mexico. How shall he ever know well what he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he shall treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action.

But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable, ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her- the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.

There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, nor the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. Shall we not have the advantage of his wisdom and honesty, nevertheless. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose.

Civil Disobedience covers several topics, and Thoreau intersperses poetry and social commentary throughout. To change unjust laws and the unjust government, people should stand up.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods- though both will serve the same purpose- because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property.

Inhe built a hut at Walden Pond on property owned by Emerson. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it.

Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience”

I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up.

But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax-bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end.

You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon.

Civil Disobedience Summary

He is not a leader, but a follower. Although Thoreau’s writing achieved little fame during his lifetime, his essay on civil disobedience was later “re-discovered” by Mohandas Gandhi, who came across it while studying law at Oxford as a young man.

Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism

Gandhi later used the essay as a foundation for his efforts in India resisting the British government through civil disobedience. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Essay InHenry David Thoreau established the idea of “civil disobedience - Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Essay introduction.

” In his paper “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau encourages the reader to recognize when the government is doing something unjust and wrongful to the people. Civil Disobedience covers several topics, and Thoreau intersperses poetry and social commentary throughout. For purposes of clarity and readability, the essay has been divided into three sections here, though Thoreau himself made no such divisions.

In addition to Civil Disobedience (), Thoreau is best known for his book Walden (), which documents his experiences living alone on Walden Pond in Massachusetts from Throughout his life, Thoreau emphasized the importance of individuality and self-reliance. When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and.

Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism

Civil Disobedience covers several topics, and Thoreau intersperses poetry and social commentary throughout. For purposes of clarity and readability, the essay has been divided into three sections here, though Thoreau himself made no such divisions.

Thoreaus 1846 essay on civil disobedience
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