Civil disobedience (original title: resistance to civil government) by henry david thoreau (1817-1862) this essay was written at a time when slavery was still legal and the united states military had invaded mexico, serving as a catalyst for thoreau's dissent against an unjust government. Thoreau says that if a man is opposed to taxes and government, he should resist and accept going to prison for it, because if the government puts all of us into a prison, they've done the job of uniting us and we've deprived them of tax money, so we can bring them down by refusing to participate. According to patrick ruffini (in his essay, civil disobedience, now more than ever), thoreau's observation crystallizes the moral confusion of a government official knowing you as a human being, but treating you as a number regardless.
Henry david thoreau was born david henry thoreau in concord, massachusetts, into the modest new england family of john thoreau, a pencil maker, and cynthia dunbar his paternal grandfather had been born on the uk crown dependency island of jersey. Thoreau sums up his political ideas about ideal government what does he envision as a truly just government thoreau envisions a truly just government as one that respects the individual as a higher and independent power and is fair to all people. Majority and government: thoreau's views on civil disobedience essay sample majority can be defined as, the greater number or part a number more than half of the total and can also be defined as, the political party, group, or faction having the most power by virtue of its larger representation or electoral strength.
In july of 1846, while on his way to concord to run an errand, henry david thoreau was arrested by the local sheriff for failure to pay a poll tax thoreau, who believed this poll tax supported the mexican-american war and the expansion of slavery into the southwest, had stopped paying this tax in 1842 but the sheriff, sam staples, failed to take action against him for several years. According to thoreau, the government of his day did not come close to this ideal for two basic reasons: slavery and the mexican-american war it is important to remember that, although thoreau's imprisonment was a protest against slavery, civil disobedience was written after the outbreak of the mexican- american war and protests both slavery. - in thoreau's essay resistance to civil government, henry david thoreau outlines a utopian society in which each individual would be responsible for governing himself his opposition to a centralized government is an effort to disassociate with the american government, which at the time was supporting slavery and unjustly invading mexico. Civil government and higher law in civil disobedience, thoreau's basic premise is that a higher law than civil law demands the obedience of the individualhuman law and government are subordinate. If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then i say, break the law.
Thoreau repeatedly characterizes government as operating according to expediency, whereas the individual citizen is capable of acting according to a higher principle, that of morality or conscience (cain 14. For thoreau, under a rule of an unjust government, prison is a better place for a person believing in supreme individualism in his words, under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. Resistance to civil government (civil disobedience) is an essay by american transcendentalist henry david thoreau that was first published in 1849 in it,. Thoreau believes the government puts personal selfish interests on a pedestal thoreau's opening statement set the tone for his entire essay he begins his essay by saying that the government, so far, has rarely proven to be useful.
In civil disobedience, thoreau says that [g]overnment is at best but an expedient to make the point the systems of government are only present as a convenience and not as a true body by which. Thoreau's essay, now popularly known as civil disobedience, was originally titled resistance to civil government he delivered it as a lecture in 1848 and published it 1849 the impetus for the essay was thoreau's refusal to pay the poll tax and his subsequent stay in jail overnight. Thoreau's vision of an ideal society initially addresses his view of government as the result of people needing some complicated machinery or another, but in his view, government only impedes all humanitarian progress. Thoreau's most famous essay is civil disobedience, published in 1849 as resistance to civil government the incident that provoked him to write it took place in july 1846, while he was living at walden. Henry david thoreau lived in the mid-nineteenth century during turbulent times in america he said he was born in the nick of time in concord, massachusetts, during the flowering of america when the transcendental movement was taking root and when the anti-slavery movement was rapidly gaining momentum.
With a government whose omnipresence would appall him, thoreau would find us further from his ideals today than when he wrote gary m galles gary m galles is a professor of economics at pepperdine university. Walden, and on the duty of civil disobedience by henry david thoreau walden economy when i wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, i lived alone, in the. Thoreau begins by challenging what the role of government really is he believes that government that doesn't govern is the best kind he considers government to be a hurdle for society as well as the individual because its main concerns—trade and commerce, and politics—don't help anyone, but instead get in the way of societal function.
Thoreau's civil disobedience was mainly a protest against slavery: i cannot for an instant recognize the political organization as my government which is the slave's government also (854) on a deeper level, the essay was a general protest against any form of political injustice and an affirmation of the obligation of passive resistance. In 1849, henry david thoreau established the idea of civil disobedience - civil disobedience by henry david thoreau essay introduction in his paper civil disobedience, thoreau encourages the reader to recognize when the government is doing something unjust and wrongful to the people. Thoreau was referring to such actions as the american war against mexico and the federal government's involvement in retrieving escaped slaves he said that this opposition should take the form of non-cooperation, including the refusal to pay taxes and fees. The 1840's, when civil disobedience was written, was a period of intense interest in social reform in the united states, which included a number of philosophical anarchists who advocated the dissolution of all government.