A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen. New York: Peter Lang, 1995. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. December 23, 2007, at the 253.
In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau evaluates the federal government critically, contending that it is an artificial institution created by the powerful while acknowledging that it is believed to serve a purpose and is likely to remain a feature of American life. Some scholars have suggested that homoerotic sentiments run through his writings and concluded that he was homosexual. In the end, he again lays emphasis on respecting an individual. Why does it not cherish its wise minority? A state cannot be absolutely free and enlightened until the government recognizes the importance of an individual. Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.
This American government,-- what is it but a tradition. Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, 1847. However, the following day his relatives paid the tax without his knowledge and this inspired his book Civil Disobedience. 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. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. I could see myself engaging in civil disobedience in an effort to bring greater attention to serious : the persistence and pervasiveness of poverty and the war are two problems that come to mind immediately.
He believes that the government is in transition from absolute monarchy to democracy. The government is chosen by people to achieve certain ends. This invention allowed profitable use of a graphite source found in that had been purchased in 1821 by Thoreau's brother-in-law, Charles Dunbar. I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. Its incisive logic is unanswerable.
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. Bronson Alcott attended the lecture, writing in his journal on January 26: Heard Thoreau's lecture before the Lyceum on the relation of the individual to the State—an admirable statement of the rights of the individual to self-government, and an attentive audience. Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry amount to more than 20 volumes. Would Thoreau roll over in his grave at the state of politics in America today? The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched. I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.
If the government puts you in prison because you do not pay taxes, then it is good to be in prison because, if the government is bad, prison is the right place for good people. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case. Both Thoreau and Reece note how these other aspects are missing from our societies and must be changed if we want to better our lives. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from ; but I did not know where to find such a complete list. A Historical Guide to Henry David Thoreau.
He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and in order to discover life's true essential needs. I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor. University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles. Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen. It is every citizen's duty to resist unfairness shown by the government. Here are the ten best quotes from that essay, if you do not have the patience to read the entire 25 pages.
Of all ebriosity, who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes? The title is an important aspect that should be considered and not misinterpreted. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. Recognizing the terminal nature of his disease, Thoreau spent his last years revising and editing his unpublished works, particularly The Maine Woods and , and petitioning publishers to print revised editions of A Week and Walden.
He is among the ranks of abolitionist thinkers, , who correctly see in direct slavery the same basic injustices a subject suffers under a government. With his own example, he establishes that non-payment of taxes is a means to withdraw support from the government. In Civil Disobedience as throughout his other writings, Thoreau focuses on the individual's ultimate responsibility to live deliberately and to extract meaning from his own life; overseeing the machinery of society is secondary. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone. As a machine, the government may not do a good job in producing justice.
He was heavily influenced by the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who introduced Thoreau to the ideas of transcendentalism, a philosophy central to Thoreau's thinking and writing. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. O for , and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! He, perhaps more than any other individual, understood the power of civil disobedience and wielded it effectively. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. 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.