Thorough And Civil Disobdience Essay

2576 words - 10 pages

Thoreau and Civil Disobedience "That government is best which governs least," Thoreau once said. Thoreau's life was full of protests and objection to government and is shown through his actions and his essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. He lived his life the way he chose to live it and did not conform to any other person, other than himself. Knowing that the only person that can change your own life is yourself, he committed his actions Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. Unlike most leading writers of his time, Thoreau cam from a family that was neither wealthy nor distinguished (Litwack 334). The other children in town were not particularly fond of him because of his seriousness and his reluctance to join their games (Schneider 4). His father made pencils in a small shop and his mother took in boarders (Litwack 334). In 1828, Thoreau attends Concord Academy then attends Harvard University in 1833. After graduating from Harvard University in 1837 he starts his career in writing by keeping a little journal of his daily activities (Schneider 1).There were few among the farmers and merchants of Concord who understood Thoreau's unrest and intellectual interests, so it was not surprising that he developed an attachment to those who did. The first to recognize his intellectual potential was Ralph Waldon Emerson. Emerson had known of Thoreau as a bright young college student for whom he had written a letter of recommendation, and Thoreau had read Emerson's Nature during his senior year at Harvard. Throughout the next few years, Emerson served as Thoreau's intellectual mentor, opening his library to the young graduate, introducing him to distinguished guests at the Emerson home, and frequently sharing ideas with him. From Emerson, Thoreau gained both a general philosophy and a specific support in his search for social and intellectual independence.Thoreau's friendship with Emerson was crucial to his intellectual development and sustained him for many years, becoming strongest perhaps when in 1841 he actually lived in Emerson's house as a handy-man. Thoreau further developed intellectually, so relationship began to cool. By 1850 he could no longer maintain the frank intellectual intimacy they had once shared. Thoreau came to feel that Emerson as too limited to vague philosophy, "I doubt if Emerson could trundle a wheelbarrow through the streets, because it would be out of character." (Torry 250) Thoreau thought that Emerson did not expand his mind as much as he should have, like himself. To him, Emerson did not do what he really wanted to, but did what was expected of him. He was not the thunderous man he once was. Emerson, on the other hand, had trouble going beyond his early view of Thoreau as a disciple who never quite found his own voice, " I am very familiar with all his thoughts, -they are my own quite originally drest." (Perry 165). To Emerson, Thoreau did not think of his own ideas. He listened to what...

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