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Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

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❶Apathy among the minority cannot by default assume the justice of the majority.

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He was briefly imprisoned for refusing to pay the poll tax , but even in jail felt freer than the people outside. He considered it an interesting experience and came out of it with a new perspective on his relationship to the government and its citizens.

He was released the next day when "someone interfered, and paid that tax". Thoreau said he was willing to pay the highway tax, which went to pay for something of benefit to his neighbors, but that he was opposed to taxes that went to support the government itself—even if he could not tell if his particular contribution would eventually be spent on an unjust project or a beneficial one.

Because government is man-made, not an element of nature or an act of God , Thoreau hoped that its makers could be reasoned with. As governments go, he felt, the U. But he felt we could and should insist on better. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? 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.

An aphorism often erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson , [16] "That government is best which governs least I heartily accept the motto,—"That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.

Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—"That government is best which governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi a. Mahatma Gandhi was impressed by Thoreau's arguments. In , about one year into his first satyagraha campaign in South Africa , he wrote a translated synopsis of Thoreau's argument for Indian Opinion , credited Thoreau's essay with being "the chief cause of the abolition of slavery in America", and wrote that "Both his example and writings are at present exactly applicable to the Indians in the Transvaal.

Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced. At the time of the abolition of slavery movement, he wrote his famous essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity.

His essay has, therefore, been sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable. American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his autobiography, he wrote:. Here, in this courageous New Englander's refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery's territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance.

Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama , these are outgrowths of Thoreau's insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.

Existentialist Martin Buber wrote, of Civil Disobedience. I read it with the strong feeling that here was something that concerned me directly It was the concrete, the personal element, the "here and now" of this work that won me over. Thoreau did not put forth a general proposition as such; he described and established his attitude in a specific historical-biographic situation.

He addressed his reader within the very sphere of this situation common to both of them in such a way that the reader not only discovered why Thoreau acted as he did at that time but also that the reader—assuming him of course to be honest and dispassionate— would have to act in just such a way whenever the proper occasion arose, provided he was seriously engaged in fulfilling his existence as a human person.

The question here is not just about one of the numerous individual cases in the struggle between a truth powerless to act and a power that has become the enemy of truth. It is really a question of the absolutely concrete demonstration of the point at which this struggle at any moment becomes man's duty as man Author Leo Tolstoy has cited Civil Disobedience as having a strong impact on his nonviolence methodology.

Others who are said to have been influenced by Civil Disobedience include: Putnam New York, Available at the Internet Archive. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 24 August Henry David Thoreau Core works and topics. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum.

John Brown Lyceum movement. Simple living Tax resistance. Emerson, 23 February Boston and New York: The Editor and G. Retrieved February 1, — via Internet Archive. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Archived from the original on May 3, Retrieved September 22, Commentary on Today's Social and Political Issues: Based on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson: They have done far more war, destruction, and opposite of all my actual hopes; why should I compromise myself for the majority??

They have enslaved more than free. They have killed more than they love. This is true throughout world history. I have given a fair chance to those in power.

Dont vote and dont pay taxes If you want something done, do it yourself I think what I just wrote was the most hypocritical and pretentious thing I have ever wrote; ignore it all! Who the fuck do I think I am!! I need a drink and a dose of reality I thought the book might be more powerful, but I am glad to have read it.

Not as boring or drawn out as Walden. However, just as delusional as Walden seriously, people thinking for themselves!?!?! The only way out this shit hole is suicide and everyone knows it I hope my review makes me look "intelligent" and "dark" for potential love interests Anyways, heres some good quotes and points of the reading, like anyone gives a shit. Why do I write these, seriously, does anyone read my shitty reviews?

Do I actual think I am creating something original with my self congratulating critiques?? I am a college dropout, god, Im so self important and pompous Ugh, I should consider taking anti depressants Because I know you wont read this book, because you're a lazy pseudo-intellect who wrote a paper in college that you thought was "great" on something no one cares about and have wasted your money or parents money and life up to this point; I have made it simple and convenient for you.

Read the quotes to get the idea of the book. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?

It is truly enough said, that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A man has not everything to do, but something and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong doing.

Aug 28, Julia rated it liked it Shelves: I am a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. I found Walden inspirational, and Civil Disobedience is a similar, thoughtful work. However, though the ideals are as clearly presented as any essay one could read today, the concepts inherent in this work are not even remotely possible. It struck me as almost amusing that Thoreau would have gladly gone to jail for his principles, but jail, and indeed all of institutions of the United States of America, would be unrecognizable in its present state to our f I am a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau.

It struck me as almost amusing that Thoreau would have gladly gone to jail for his principles, but jail, and indeed all of institutions of the United States of America, would be unrecognizable in its present state to our founding fathers and those who first conceived of the notion of liberty. Thoreau, a highly educated man who could read texts in their original Greek and Latin, claimed to need nothing of physical comforts or delights.

He espoused a desire to sit and think in jail, staring out at the stars, rather than capitulate to unfair laws and inequitable situations. Those who ran the jails in Massachusetts during his one day of confinement, released him happily, knowing he was simply a man who must espouse his principles, a man who posed no threat to his fellow man.

It would be a far different story were it to happen today. Aug 27, Jim rated it liked it Shelves: I believe he is sincere, if impractical. I think he draws the lines rather tight for the real world some times, but maybe it is that attitude that allowed things to go so wrong since his day I've seen him labeled an Anarchist, but I believe he was a Libertarian.

He wanted a better government that needed to govern less. May 24, Rebecca rated it it was amazing Shelves: Every sentence could stand as an individual idea, a great quote. Each lecture is beautifully constructed and well argued. As I read, I co Brilliant! As I read, I continually thought of a band of immigration bills debated and passed through the Utah Legislature this year which clearly went against the laws of our nation, but the intent of which was to solve a problem that the federal government has failed to do.

Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil.

It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

With my religious background, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular statement: The Church has much improved within a few years; but the Press is almost, without exception, corrupt.

I believe that, in this country, the press exerts a greater and a more pernicious influence than the Church did in its worst period. We are not a religious people, but we are a nation of politicians.

We do not care for the Bible, but we do care for the newspaper. At any meeting of politicians,--like that at Concord the other evening, for instance,--how impertinent it would be to quote from the Bible! How pertinent to quote from a newspaper or from the Constitution!

The newspaper is a Bible which we read every morning and every afternoon, standing and sitting, riding and walking. It is a Bible which every man carries in his pocket, which lies on every table and counter, and which the mail, and thousands of missionaries, are continually dispensing.

It is, in short, the only book which America has printed, and which America reads. So wide is its influence. The editor is a preacher whom you voluntarily support. Your tax is commonly one cent daily, and it costs nothing for pew hire. But how many of these preachers preach the truth? I repeat the testimony of many an intelligent foreigner as well as my own convictions, when I say, that probably no country was ever ruled by so mean a class of tyrants as, with a few noble exceptions, are the editors of the periodical press in this country.

And as they live and rule only by their servility, and appealing to the worst, and not the better nature of man, the people who read them are in the condition of the dog that returns to his vomit from Slavery in Massachusetts. Thoreau is actually calling to us , to the individual, to be on guard and cleanse the inner vessel. Why has every man a conscience, then?

I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. I found a correlation with a beloved sermon from Elder D. Todd Christofferson called Moral Discipline. Note the message around 4: The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments.

They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre , without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering.

He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

Sep 12, Scott rated it really liked it. My main takeaway is this While Democracy is clearly the best form of government thus far in history, it is not perfect.

As an American, I can take a stand against what I believe to be wrong with the State. This book reignited my political interest. Jan 03, Wilton rated it it was amazing. Thoreau is food for the soul. Listened to this on my way to work and found myself pondering quote after quote. I already knew I shared Thoreau's view of "the State" and all that, but his grounding beliefs and his explanation of them was also instructive. Despite its length, or maybe because of it, this is the type of book one should consume periodically.

Even if it's not all the essays, but only selected ones, it seems like "re-dosing" would be helpful, as one travels down the road of life. Because Goodreads is apparently cutting off my review, here is the rest of it: Okay, so it took me 15 days to read a 90 page book but it's Fine.

The first of the essays included in this book is Civil Disobedience , which is of course one of Thoreau's most famous works. It was interesting but not really what I thought it was going to be. I get that the reason it is heralded is what he was discussing specifically in the text has wider applications but I was expecting something a bit broader I guess Because Goodreads is apparently cutting off my review, here is the rest of it: I get that the reason it is heralded is what he was discussing specifically in the text has wider applications but I was expecting something a bit broader I guess.

I also had some trouble reading it as the language took some getting used to. Next was Slavery in Massachussettes , which I guess left the least impression upon me? I don't really remember it at all, other than thinking that Thoreau very plainly stated his stance against slavery and also against hypocrisy.

I enjoyed the anger he displayed, I think I am unused to thinking of older books and essays as being emotional but he is quite emotional in his case for the martyrdom of Captain John Brown. I did run up against my own lack of knowledge of Civil War era American history, which caused some confusion. I didn't even know what significance Harper's Ferry holds, so at first this essay was a bit lost on me. I think my biggest takeaway here was a desire to learn more about this time so I have greater context.

Next was Walking , which was where I really stared enjoying Thoreau. I also, at this point, started livetweeting my reading so here are my thoughts: I have read it over 10 times and I don't know what the point is. He is talking about being so in one's head that one forgets to notice the outside world but eventually the world returns. And that last tweet pretty much sums up my takeaway from Walking. The last essay in this collection was Life Without Principal which, again, was not at all what I was expecting.

I also livetweeted my reading of this one. Which leads me to perpetually not know social things while at the same time over estimating what my peers were taught. Anyway, the point of this rant is, I very much wonder if 'Life Without Principle' is taught in school. Much like Civil Disobedience I was expecting this to be on a broader topic, maybe something a bit more cohesive, but in execution it was kind of a meandering series of observations.

This not to say that the impact was not still felt. The other topic undertaken in this last essay was gossip and while I may disagree with Thoreau about what sorts of transient constitute gossip and which constitute something worthy of attention, I do find too much of today's society over preoccupied with affairs that will be inconsequential in a matter of hours or even within the span of time that it takes the teller to draw breath to repeat the story, and I do get very annoyed by this type of talk and try not to participate in it.

For further quotes I liked, the ending of his essay, "Why should we meet, not always as dyspeptics , to tell our bad news, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever glorious morning? I do not make such an exorbitant demand, surely. Feb 18, Santiago Soria rated it it was amazing. It teaches us to appreciate life and nature.

Thoreau is a crank and a grouch and a scold, of course. But there is often more than a glimmer of truth in his diatribes. Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated.

That sound commonly reminds us that we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of thought. His philosophy come Thoreau is a crank and a grouch and a scold, of course.

His philosophy comes down to a more recent time than ours. There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament, -- the gospel according to the moment. He has not fallen astern; he has got up early and kept up early, and to be where he is is to be in season, in the foremost rank of time. It is an expression of the health and soundness of Nature, a brag for all the world, -- healthiness as of a spring burst forth, a fountain of the Muses, to celebrate this last instant of time.

Or as Bob Dylan put it more recently, "That he not busy being born is busy dying. Jul 09, Schuyler Lystad rated it did not like it. I really was interested to read this, but he comes off as a self-important ass. Either he knew very little about his world, or his ideas do not hold up to the test of time at all - each page is easy to disprove, and his ideas on liberty are dangerously myopic, possibly contradictory - he wants everything from government but refuses to give it anything and I don't mean money.

I would be surprised if anyone besides Libertarians who have a thought out position in politics could find this wor Wow. I would be surprised if anyone besides Libertarians who have a thought out position in politics could find this worth considering.

Jan 10, Susan rated it it was ok. I only read the Civil Disobedience essay. I'm having trouble thinking of anything to say other than "What an insufferable prat Thoreau must have been.

Aug 30, Nick Black rated it did not like it Shelves: I could go on like this for a minute, but doubt you really need me to. Reading this at 15 set me up for a lifetime of not ever wanting to sound like Henry David Thoreau. Jan 31, Fredr rated it really liked it. Interesting thoughts beginning with first sentence "That government is best which governs least" from John L O'Sullivan.

It is thought provoking of the injustices that governments condone and how as individuals should handle issues. First printed in Nov 22, Kyle rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: I love the essay Civil Disobedience.

This is probably the 10th time I've read it, and I still always learn something new from it that I didn't quite grasp before. Love Thoreau, whether he's talking about nature or politics. Checking out a few side-lines aspects. Oct 13, Gabrijela added it. Apr 30, Alex rated it really liked it. On "Resistance to Civil Government: I went there for the town's history which began approximately years before these transcendentalists existed and had hardly studied any of them, their movement, or its implications.

I lived a mile from Walden Pond and had never read Thoreau's adventures there, a few blocks from the homes of everyone e On "Resistance to Civil Government: I lived a mile from Walden Pond and had never read Thoreau's adventures there, a few blocks from the homes of everyone else listed and only came to comprehend what each of these individuals meant to our world through interactions with visitors to the National Park where I worked.

Upon my return to the good ole PNW, I told myself that I would dive head first into exploring this history and connect its overwhelming presence to my experience in Concord - and, so, I've picked up "Civil Disobedience", originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government", and began there. Henry David Thoreau was a born, lived, and passed native of Concord. He thought of it as "the most estimable place in all the world", and rightfully so in my opinion.

Born in , Thoreau witnessed a Concord that had seen three major wars - one of which began on its soil - and had made a name for itself as a small, spunky, and fairly influential town in its nearly years of existence. Sitting 18 miles NE of Boston, Concord had become a prosperous market town along the route into and out of Boston. In the 18th century at least my primary era of study , it maintained an abundance of natural resources, such as meadow hay used primarily for livestock feed , livestock, lumber, and just about anything that could be tilled in the soil.

It had not only been the home of many influential characters over the years, but it had also become an influential character in and of itself as the hub of innovative ideas, such as the aforementioned transcendentalist movement as well as prominent liberal as we use the term today , Unitarianism.

It was here in the town of Concord where Thoreau chose to take a stand against his country and the state of Massachusetts by refusing to pay taxes in protest to the fighting of Mexico for the annexation of Texas, widely assumed to increase slave territory. Thoreau found himself in jail for a single night in July of and fighting would continue for two years afterwards. He opens with a ideological commentary on government and a call to every citizen to make a stand and demand the American government to be better.

I think that we should be men first and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right. But, as Thoreau points out, is it really a just system to have majority rule in the first place? No - I think not.

His more libertarian view of government complains of my assumption of government exactly - as the entity becomes less about men and more about the system, it become a capital 'G' Government and more like a machine.

Its presumed nature of goodness and moral consciousness is lost. In this sense, it seems to me that the dichotomy between choosing to vote or not vote in today's world is still not enough to make an impact on our collective consciousness, that activism is the key to making right.

There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. Simply having an opinion and stating it freely to those who would listen was not enough for Thoreau, but action was - and still is - the only means through which to make a difference towards right; "Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was.

It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Apathy among the minority cannot by default assume the justice of the majority. Through example, Thoreau calls for change in that "if it [the machine of government] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. In reference to legal human slavery, Thoreau uses the word "copartnership" to describe the relationship of a man to his government ie, the state of Massachusetts when neither chose to take a stand, implying that apathy is an active choice and that those who decline to act are just as guilty.

Does this statement seem to be a bit extreme in addressing the realities of how our government works? Yes, I think so - but his point still stands. Those who speak without action have made no real change at all, but continue to abide by the system for fear of repercussions which Thoreau views as further government sanctioned injustices that can and should be fought by those honest and just men who see the truth of the matter.

Perhaps Thoreau's most moving and personal point for me is a lesson which I learned about 4 years ago in my young life, a lesson that had not and could not be taught by any familial example I had seen before. It sets me apart from my family and most friends to this day as a value that I hold dearly and try to live by even when realistic obstacles get in my way; "I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man or a musket to shoot with, - the dollar is innocent, - but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance.

In Thoreau's day, he protested human trafficking and slavery within his own country; in our day, we are economically bound to support the same things elsewhere through outsourcing.

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Civil Disobedience [Henry David Thoreau, Tony Darnell] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience is an essay by American author Henry David Thoreau and was first published in with the title of "Resistance to Civil Government". Thoreau sets for an argument that permit governments to rule or /5(K).

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Natural philosopher and rugged poet Henry David Thoreau has inspired many generations through Thoreau’s popular essays included here: Civil Disobedience, Slavery in Massachusetts, A Plea for Captain John Brown, Walking, and Life without Principle. Cited by both Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as influential in their drive to /5(K).

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Civil Disobedience and Other Essays has 14, ratings and reviews. Manny said: Last time I reviewed this book, my review was rapidly deleted and I r /5. Civil Disobedience and Other Essays by Henry David Thoreau American author, naturalist, and abolitionist, Henry David Thoreau was a principal figure of the 19th century movement of Transcendentalism.3/5(1).

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Civil disobedience and other essays - Quality essays at competitive costs available here will turn your studying into pleasure experience the benefits of professional writing help available here Cooperate with our scholars to get the excellent coursework following the requirements. - Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other nonviolent means. The use of nonviolence runs throughout history however the fusion of organized mass struggle and nonviolence is relatively new.