Henry david thoreau essay on the duty of civil disobedience

In a constitutional republic like the United States, people often think that the proper response to an unjust law is to try to use the political process to change the law, but to obey and respect the law until it is changed.

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau points out that the same people who applaud soldiers for refusing to fight an unjust war are not themselves willing to refuse to fund the government that started the war. Because of this, it is "not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize". There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.

A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. However, it is prone to be misused. Thoreau further argues that the United States fits his criteria for an unjust government, given its support of slavery and its practice of aggressive war.

Unjust laws do not work for people, whether they are in majority or minority. He says that he wants to honor the laws of the land. In the end, he again lays emphasis on respecting an individual. The essay was printed with a new title called Civil Disobedience.

Although this is an acceptable dictionary definition of the word civil, it is not what is intended here.

A Summary and Analysis of Henry David Thoreau's 'Civil Disobedience'

When a government is unjust, people should refuse to follow the law and distance themselves from the government in general. He goes on to describe details about his stay in the jail and the treatment meted out to a person by the state as if he is only a physical entity and not an intellectual individual.

Paying taxes is one way in which otherwise well-meaning people collaborate in injustice. However, he was released from jail the next morning when a friend paid his taxes. Instead, it might produce injustice only. According to Thoreau, this form of protest was preferable to advocating for reform from within government; he asserts that one cannot see government for what it is when one is working within it.

According to him, if the machine is producing injustice, citizens should work as a resistance to stop the machine. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.

With his own example, he establishes that non-payment of taxes is a means to withdraw support from the government. As governments go, he felt, the U. Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. An individual must act with principle and break the law if necessary.

To establish this thought, he compares the government with a machine.

There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them.ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE BY HENRY DAVID THOREAU 7^WYS`f7Taa]e. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Essay: “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” Author: Henry David Thoreau, –62 First published: The original essay is in the public domain in the United States HENRY DAVID THOREAU 7 that such is not the case now.

But such was the case. Henry David Thoreau's essay Civil Disobedience, published inhas influenced civil rights leaders from President John F. Kennedy to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Civil Disobedience and Other Essays Quotes

By advocating that citizens are obligated to actively (but not violently) oppose governmental rules that they believe to be unjust, Thoreau was asserting his faith in the power of the individual, a central notion to 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.

ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE By Henry David Thoreau Walden Economy When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only.

Henry David Thoreau: "Civil Disobedience" BACK; NEXT ; Thoreau had some serious problems with the way the United States was run. He was an outspoken opponent of slavery and bitterly opposed the Mexican-American War, which he viewed as an act of American aggression.

In protest, Thoreau refused to pay his poll taxes. David Henry Thoreau's essay Civil Disobedience argues that if a government is being unfair, it is an individual's duty to stand up against it.

This Penlighten post briefs you on the Civil Disobedience summary for you in an effort to explain Thoreau's ideas better.

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Henry david thoreau essay on the duty of civil disobedience
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