This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Resistance To Civil Government: Henry David Thoreau

1659 words - 7 pages

In his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government,” often times dubbed, “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) argues against abiding to one’s State, in protest to the unjust laws within its government. Among many things, Thoreau was an American author, poet, and philosopher. He was a firm believer in the idea of civil disobedience, the act of refusing to obey certain laws of a government that are felt to be unjust. He opposed the laws regarding slavery, and did not support the Mexican-American war, believing it to be a tactic by the Southerners to spread slavery to the Southwest. To show his lack of support for the American government, he refused to pay his taxes. After spending ...view middle of the document...

He expresses the issue of the people blindly following their leaders, without any signs of progression, exemplifying the problems with voting leaving people to only care enough to cast a vote but never press the issues any further. He states, “They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone,” when referring to the State taking crucial action, right after declaring, “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn” (Civil). Thoreau feels that he would rather pull himself from the State than aid in its corruption. He urges the people to do the same, taking the extra step that is required to make an impression on the State. He criticizes the people who blindly follow the State, declaring, “Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs” and even accuses them of unintentionally serving the devil, as God (Civil). He continues to press the need for change.
Later in the essay, he shares his experience in prison. He describes prison as the appropriate place for him, stating, “The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles” (Civil). As a self-proclaimed outsider to the state, Thoreau accepts his imprisonment, where the State recognizes him as an outsider as well. Prison is the appropriate place for a man who does not abide by the laws that he does not find lawfully just. For example, his tax evasion, the reason for his imprisonment in the first place. Because of this reason, Thoreau does not find his imprisonment a punishment he should dread; rather, he accepts and even welcomes it.
In 1888, Gandhi went to England to study and become a lawyer. His first job required him to move to South Africa. During his travels to South Africa, Gandhi experienced discrimination first hand. Gandhi was thrown off a train after refusing to move from the first-class to third-class coach, even though he had a valid first class ticket (Gandhi). This event drastically impacted his views on social injustice and led him to challenge discrimination in South Africa. The approval of a new law that required Indians to register with the police and be fingerprinted led Gandhi to protest by not submitting to these unreasonable laws. Because of his refusal, he was arrested and put in jail. It was during his time in jail that he became influenced by Thoreau’s ideas after reading his works (Gandhi). From this he adopted the term “civil disobedience” to describe his method of non-violently disobeying the laws he felt to be unjust.
After his release from jail, Gandhi continued to protest the registration laws. He did this through support of the labor strikes and organizing massive non-violent marches....

Find Another Essay On Resistance to Civil Government: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Essay

1280 words - 6 pages Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord Massachusetts. Thoreau grew up in poverty; his dad was unsuccessful and had trouble maintaining a steady job. Thoreau followed in his father’s footsteps, ultimately bouncing from job to job, scorned by society for his unconventional way of living and lack of income (Henry David Thoreau, Discovering Biography). Thoreau began to write with the guidance of Ralph Waldo Emerson who became one

Henry David Thoreau Essay

1381 words - 6 pages Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau grew up in poverty; his dad was unsuccessful and had trouble maintaining a steady job. Thoreau followed in his father’s footsteps, ultimately bouncing from job to job, scorned by society for his unconventional way of living and lack of income (Henry David Thoreau, Discovering Biography). Thoreau began to write with the guidance of Ralph Waldo Emerson who became one

Henry David Thoreau

670 words - 3 pages authors presented nature as a work of art, established through divine imagination construct. One of the Romanticism writers is David Henry Thoreau who illustrated nature and its meaning in his book, Walden. Most of Thoreau’s phrases in the book show a close link between Romanticism and nature, as he tries to bring out the importance of the latter. One of the quotes from Thoreau’s book that relates to nature is: “… and as we had drank in the

Henry David Thoreau: Transcendentalist Writer

2411 words - 10 pages Henry David Thoreau was a nineteenth century American author who lived during the height of Transcendentalism. He became an important contributor to this movement (“H. D. T.” Poetry Foundation). Thoreau received much information about this movement from Emerson, a noteworthy friend of Thoreau. Thoreau wrote many significant works in American literature, including Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” The works of Henry David Thoreau were strongly

Biography of Henry David Thoreau

1080 words - 4 pages the Concord and Merrimack Rivers; published in 1849. "Resistance to Civil Government" published in 1849 and then republished in 1866. Those some of Thoreau's journal entries that he published before his death in 1862. The writings of Henry David Thoreau,20 vol. is an edition of Thoreau's books, essays, and journals. This book is being replaced by Princeton Edition which is producing books of high knowledge. Collected poems by Thoreau is enlarged

The Incredible Henry David Thoreau

1400 words - 6 pages all and no man or government has the power to deny us our destiny. Bibliography: Richardson, Robert D. Jr. (1986). Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. University of California Press, 455p. Schneider, Richard J. (1987). Henry David Thoreau. Twayne Publishers, 179p. Henry David Thoreau. John Brown. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau and Indiviualism

849 words - 3 pages such as empiricism, mechanization, mathematical thinking, dehumanization, and increased materialism. Individualism is a belief in the importance of the individual and the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence. Moreover this concept of individualism can be viewed in relation to the State or social group. Henry David Thoreau, in both Walden and "Civil Disobedience", espouses individualism.Self-reliance and personal independence are

Henry David Thoreau - "Why I Went to the Woods"

525 words - 2 pages This excerpt is from his famous essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience". First, some background; in 1842, his brother John died of lockjaw. Three years later, Henry decided to write a book commemorating a canoe trip he had taken with John in 1839. Seeking a quiet place to write, he followed a friend's suggestion and built a small cabin on the north shore of Walden Pond on a piece of land owned by his friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He

Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau and Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr

1036 words - 4 pages The essays, "Civil Disobedience," by Henry David Thoreau, and "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," by Martin Luther King, Jr., incorporate the authors’ opinions of justice. Each author efficiently shows their main point; Thoreau deals with justice as it relates to government, he asks for,”not at one no government, but at once a better government.”(Paragraph 3). King believed,” injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." (Paragraph 4

Comparing Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

727 words - 3 pages brought him to the Birmingham Jail.Recognition of injustice and passive resistance described by both authors is to point out the need of government reformation. Thoreau calls for a better government, immediately, and points out that the fastest way to improve government is to "let every man make know what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it" (1:1425). King does not directly states the

Henry David Thoreau and the Counterculture

1742 words - 7 pages hand, the counterculture liked to travel in groupies. The counterculture savored time spent with other non-conformists and enjoyed the company of those around them. They stayed in homes with fifteen or twenty people living together at once. The feelings for government is another way Thoreau and the counterculture differentiate. Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay, Civil Disobedience, in which he demonstrated, “ That government is best which

Similar Essays

"Civil Disobedience" By David Henry Thoreau

967 words - 4 pages Civil DisobedienceHenry David ThoreauAmerican author and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Mass, in 1817. Thoreau, a graduate of Harvard in 1837, is considered one of the most influential figures in American thought and literature. Known for being an individualist, Thoreau fought against materialism and social conformity. This individualistic belief is reflected in his numerous writings.In one of Thoreau's most noted and

Civil Disobedience By Henry David Thoreau

765 words - 3 pages of his philosophy, Thoreau effectively proves his statements regarding citizenship and government. He remains consistent to nearly every idea he presents and therefore surrounds them with a seriousness that cannot be ignored.BibliographyThoreau, Henry. "Civil Disobedience." Elements of Argument: A text and Reader. Ed. Annette T. Rottenberg. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's,2000. 463-466.

Henry David Thoreau Essay 756 Words

756 words - 3 pages "We go westward," he said, "as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure." A naturalist and author, Henry David Thoreau made a difference in the nation, made an effect on the world, and made a change in government. Prior to my knowledge, he was a man unto himself who look at society and government and found them lacking in nearly every respect. His outstanding writings became classics of American literature. During the civil

Henry David Thoreau Essay 4217 Words

4217 words - 17 pages Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau was a man who expressed his beliefs of society, government, and mankind while living under his own self-criticism. Thoreau believed he had many weaknesses which made him a failure. This strong disapproval of himself contrasted with his powerful words and strong actions. These contradictions led to some of Thoreau's greatest pieces of literature. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord