An essay on civil disobedience and henry david thoreau

What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Civil disobedience excerpt pdf

This American government- what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? New York: Penguin Books. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make what use and get what advantage of her I can, as is usual in such cases. You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. 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. In Dr. How is it possible to have a ruling body that is strong enough to interfere when needed, yet is trusted, and expected not to interfere otherwise? I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? Thoreau argued that the government must end its unjust actions to earn the right to collect taxes from its citizens. It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. Natural law is a set of laws that are not written down, but are inscribed in the back of ones mind.

I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn- a wholly new and rare experience to me. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret.

civil disobedience thoreau pdf

Table of Contents Summary Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?

Civil disobedience thoreau

They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. Both issues greatly influenced his essay, as he actually practiced civil disobedience in his own life by refusing to pay taxes in protest of the Mexican War. In his essay Thoreau argued that not all laws are just, but as human beings it is more important to obey natural law over civil law. But the jailer said, "Come, boys, it is time to lock up"; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. Humans are a reactionary peoples, and if provoked, can react in extremely territorial, and even predatory manners. 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. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. T Henry David Thoreau is credited with establishing a form of protest known as Civil Disobedience, which inspired leaders for generations. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.

They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. 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. Although this is an acceptable dictionary definition of the word civil, it is not what is intended here.

resistance to civil government

They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But he felt we could and should insist on better.

civil disobedience thoreau summary
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Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau Essay