Thesis of civil disobedience by thoreau

Thoreau and others who believed that this inborn knowledge served as a moral guiding force were known as transcendentalists — that is, they believed that this inner knowledge was a higher, transcendent form of knowledge than that which came through the senses. Because Thoreau and his fellow transcendentalists trusted their own inner light as a moral guiding force, they were possessed of a fierce spirit of self-reliance. They were individualists; they liked to make decisions for themselves.

If the government adopted a policy or a law that offended their consciences, they generally reacted strongly. He used the word transcendental to refer to intuitive or innate knowledge — knowledge which is a priori rather than a posteriori. Thoreau's Influence on Others.

Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience” - Constitutional Rights Foundation

Among them was Mohandas K. Mahatma Gandhi , the great Indian leader. But rather than terming his philosophy of peaceful agitation either civil disobedience or passive resistance, he called it satyagraha pronounced SAHT ya GRUH ha , a Hindi Indo-Aryan language word via sanskrit old Indo-European language. After World War I, Gandhi returned to his native India to lead a movement against British rule of that country, enlisting millions of supporters in a nonviolent movement that resulted in Indian independence.

His ideas — and the ideas of Thoreau — profoundly influenced the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. Biographical Information. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Mass. After graduating from Harvard University in , he taught school but quit after a few weeks, then worked for a short while for his father, a pencil-maker. In , he returned to teaching but by the early 's had decided to pursue writing as a career and began turning out essays and poetry.

His most famous work is Walden; or Life in the Woods , which recounts his experiences living alone in a cabin he built at Walden Pond near Concord. Summary of the Essay. The best government is one with severely limited powers.

It should use its powers only to carry out moral and ethical activities on behalf of the citizens. Unfortunately, factions of powerful self-interest groups sometimes manipulate the government into carrying out actions that offend the conscience of upright citizens.


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A case in point is the Mexican War. It is an unjust war that seeks to annex Mexican land and then establish slavery on it.

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I cannot do what they do. I cannot accede to the policies of a government that legitimizes slavery and then invades another country in order to expand this evil institution. Here in Massachusetts, there are merchants and farmers who go along with government policy because they are more interested in making money than in doing justice to fellow human beings.

And what of those who oppose slavery and the war? Too many of them sit back and allow others to carry out this task for them. By failing to act to initiate reform — by continuing to yield to unjust government polices — these people become obstacles to reform. Their inaction helps to perpetuate the unjust policies. The state, of course, has procedures in place to enable citizens to bring about reform.

But those ways take too long. Besides, in the present case, it is the Constitution — the very law itself — which is evil. I believe that those who support abolition of slavery should immediately withdraw their support of the Massachusetts government rather than wait and go through channels. If they have God on their side, they have reason enough to act at once without official approval.

If even only one honest man would stand on principle and be willing to go to jail for his action, we could abolish slavery in America.

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For it does not matter how small the beginning of resistance is. If it is done well once, it is done for all time.


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Of course, we would rather talk about reform than carry out reform. Actually, a prison is the only place today where an honorable man in a slave state can live with honor. Henry david how to use proverbs in essay thoreau science introduction essay civil disobedience music industry thesis topics essay.

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Thesis and "Civil Disobedience"