Essay: “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. Author: Henry David Thoreau, – First published: The original This PDF ebook was created by José. 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. Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · 19 by Henry David Thoreau. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. No cover available. Download.

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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. HENRY DAVID THOREAU. Over the past 2, years, no matter how the goals and tactics have changed, the principle of civil disobedience has remained much. More Information Less Information. Close. Enter the password to open this PDF file. Cancel PDF Producer: . PDF Version: . Page Count: . Close. Preparing.

They force me to become like themselves. I was not born to be forced. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. The local jailer. I did not for a moment feel confined. They plainly did not know how to treat me. The prisoners in their shirt-sleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway.

I was put into a jail once on this account. It must help itself. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations.

I asked him in my turn how he came there. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. The Concord jail was not a small-town lockup. I believe he was. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law38 than I. The rooms were whitewashed once a month. As they could not reach me. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones.

I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I saw that the State was half-witted. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me. If a plant cannot live according to its nature. He naturally wanted to know where I came from.

In later years Thoreau often hired Staples as an assistant when he did surveying. A favorite phrase with the Transcendentalists. I cannot help that. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends.

They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. In the morning.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could. I was fairly inside of it. This is one of its peculiar institutions. At that time Concord shared with Cambridge the honor of being county seat of Middlesex County. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field. It was like traveling into a far country.

The Answer. Page It seemed to me that I never had heard the town-clock strike before. I never had seen its institutions before. When they called for the vessels again. The Middlesex Hotel. When I came out of prison. It was a closer view of my native town. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there.

He occupied one window. I was shown quite a long list of verses which were composed by some young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape. It was formerly the custom in our village. I was green enough to return what bread I had left. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village-inn. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages.

Thoreau was obviously thinking of the many Biblical references such as Heb.

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I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State. If others pay the tax which is demanded of me. Walter Harding. New York: When many millions of men. I sometimes say to myself. The Days of Henry Thoreau. I see that appeal is possible. In fact. When I was let out the next morning. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case.

I am doing my part to educate my fellow-countrymen now. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed. I proceeded to finish my errand. You do not put your head into the fire. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are. It is for no particular item in the tax-bill that I refuse to pay it. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force.

I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar. But I think again.

Silvio Pellico I quietly declare war with the State. I think sometimes. You do not resist cold and hunger. There are really no blows to be given by him but defensive ones.

Statesmen and legislators. Webster51 never goes behind government.

His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government. I do not wish to split hairs. He well deserves to be called. And if at any time we alienate Our love or industry from doing it honor. Thoreau has slightly reworded and modernized the text and. I know that most men think differently from myself. He is not a leader. It is not many moments that I live under a government. And not desire of rule or benefit. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination.

The Battle of Alcazar Daniel Webster February 6. George Peele. I have reason to suspect myself on this head. If a man is thought-free. These lines were not included in the Aesthetic Papers version. I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. Truth is always in harmony with herself. Seen from a lower point of view. Still his quality is not wisdom.

I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments. I seek rather. We must respect effects and teach the soul Matter of conscience and religion. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency.

They speak of moving society. I may say. I am but too ready to conform to them. Speech on the Texas question. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it.

This sentence was not included in the Aesthetic Papers version Page There are orators. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and of freedom. Speech on the bill to exclude slavery from the territories. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They have never received any encouragement from me. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance. We love eloquence for its own sake. I have never countenanced an effort. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance.

The authority of government. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men. For eighteen hundred years. America would not long retain her rank among the nations. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy. A State which bore this kind of fruit. 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. They are rare in the history of the world.

These extracts have been inserted since the Lecture was read. Associations formed elsewhere. Note that this essay. More than three years before. The examples of Alcott and Lane set Thoreau to thinking. Thoreau himself was made particularly aware of the issues involved by the antislavery activities of the members of his own household— his mother and sisters— by the antislavery periodicals they regularly subscribed to.

Now that he felt called to action himself. I One evening late in July of Again Squire Hoar paid the tax. Charles Lane. The abolitionists had. This kind of a philosophy was inevitably attractive to a Transcendentalist such as Thoreau. Feeling their only weapon against these institutions to be mass action.

Ex-President John Quincy Adams. He also offered to try to persuade the selectmen to reduce the tax if Thoreau thought it too high. The Massachusetts poll tax not a voting tax. But Staples.

Civil Disobedience and Other Essays Quotes

But at least it was causing twinges in the American conscience. The other group. I shall have to lock you up pretty soon. They denounced loudly and vehemently those institutions such as the church. Although Alcott was arrested. He was stopped on the street by Sam Staples.

The antislavery movement had by no means attained respectability ironically it was not to attain that until after the Civil War when the need for its activities no longer existed.

When Staples asked what he should do about it. Those led by William Lloyd Garrison were activists. Bronson Alcott. And in the succeeding years. William Lloyd Garrison was beginning to become a household name.

The agitation against slavery had grown in recent years from the work of a few rare individuals to that of the beginnings of a mass movement. Thoreau was not the first to be arrested in Concord for nonpayment of his poll taxes. Elizabeth Hoar. Or it might have been that the recent declaration of war against Mexico had inflamed a patriotism that demanded the collection of all taxes.

Thoreau made the most of what he thought to be a rare opportunity and pumped his cellmate for all he was worth about the history of the jail and its occupants and its gossip. Later in the night a prisoner in a nearby cell began calling out with painful monotony.

Although Staples. Some have claimed that it was Emerson. Thoreau put his head to the window bars and called out in a loud voice. Concord was the shire town of Middlesex County and this was the county jail. As a matter of fact. Thoreau could just as well spend the night in jail and be released in the morning.

The prisoners were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the prison yard when Thoreau and Staples entered. When his mother heard of it.

Sam Staples had gone out for a while that evening. It had eighteen cells. Aunt Jane Thoreau. Each cell had two double-grated windows. Staples chose to ignore his non-payment. The Concord jail. When the door was locked. But the preponderance of evidence points to Aunt Maria Thoreau. Why Staples suddenly decided to take action in the summer of is not known for certain. Rockwood Hoar. A formidable jail indeed. Staples told the men it was time to return to their cells and introduced Thoreau to his cellmate.

And Eben J. So this is life!

It stood just off the Mill Dam. Apparently he had fallen asleep in the barn while smoking and so had inadvertently burned it down. There is a legend that Alcott once. As for Sam Staples. And Staples. Since he himself had not paid those taxes. You have a tottering cause: It seems likely that Thoreau had extracted a promise from his mother not to interfere with his plans.

In later years he often hired Staples as his assistant when he was surveying. He found an attentive audience. James Garty. And little Georgie Bartlett said that he thought from the excitement he was seeing a Siberian exile or John Bunyan himself. And regularly thereafter. It had been the whole purpose of his refusal to pay taxes to get arrested and so to call dramatically to the attention of his fellow citizens the cause of abolitionism that he had espoused. A poor cow who does well by you.

Three weeks later. But Aunt Maria was bound by no such promise and so stepped in and paid the tax. When Staples came to release Thoreau. In the spring of Elizabeth Peabody suddenly wrote to ask Thoreau for permission to publish that lecture.

Many stared at him. When Aunt Maria paid his taxes. Later Thoreau was to find out that when his cellmate came to trial. When morning came. Aunt Maria was understandably upset to learn that her nephew was in jail.

Thoreau finally went on his way. But Staples said. But Thoreau carried no such grudge. She was establishing a new periodical to be called Aesthetic Papers to carry Page They were more interested in the essays by the better known Emerson and Hawthorne in the same issue.

Six weeks later. He had had enough of delaying actions on the part of editors. Thoreau at the moment was busy correcting proofs of his first book and replied that he hardly had time left for bodily exercise.

At the time of its publication. Nonetheless he promised to send the manuscript along within a week. Miss Peabody. Although Aesthetic Papers was noticed here and there. Salt was. For thirty years he conducted civil disobedience campaigns the length and breadth of the country. After his graduation from Oxford. As he fully expected. He offered prizes for student essays on the most effective methods of passive resistance. He accompanied the essay with editorials advocating the use of civil disobedience against the offensive legislation.

And he led direct action against the laws. Socrates in drinking the cup of hemlock and Antigone in sprinkling dust on the body of Polyneices were both committing acts of civil disobedience.

That is the law of the conscience. Gandhi led followers to the seashore. Boethius many centuries ago expounded the philosophy in western culture and Mencius in eastern. These theories are not original with Thoreau. Having difficulty finding food proper to his diet on the university campus. But the government found it had not solved its problem.

But so far as I have been able to find out. When the British government. In the eyes of his countrymen. Gandhi established himself as a lawyer in South Africa. About the Russian novelist and philosopher Count Leo Tolstoy somewhere. But the important fact is that it was Thoreau who popularized the idea. Civil disobedience had triumphed.

The laws were one by one repealed or became dead letters. Progress was at first slow. And therein. Gandhi who was studying at Oxford University in England about But we need not confine ourselves to India. The lowest group. The laws became unenforceable and the Untouchables won their right to use the village wells.

Business could not be conducted. Let us turn to Denmark for another example. What was the result? When Gandhi found that pleas as to the inhumanity of the religious codes went unheeded. The Untouchables quite understandably died off like the proverbial flies. He said he never went anywhere— not even to jail— without a copy of the pamphlet because it epitomized the whole spirit of his life.

But they did not dare to execute or even to arrest the King. Over and over again they found the religious codes turned against them. Traffic could not move. The entire city came to a standstill. Jew or Gentile.

Rather than risk having him die on their hands. As soon as he was physically able. These are only two of many examples of the Page In prison Gandhi went on a hunger strike protesting what he considered his illegal arrest. The only source of water for many Indian villages was a single well. When the Nazis invoked a law requiring all Jews to wear a large six-pointed yellow star on the back of each article of clothing— the obvious purpose being to single out the Jews for further persecution— virtually every citizen in Denmark.

The action and the reaction were repeated again and again. Some years ago Roger Baldwin. Gandhi then turned his attention to other unjust laws. Gandhi had become a martyr to their own cause. But they too eventually found their sympathies won by the martyrdom of the Untouchables and refused to continue their violence.

They were forced to resort to the open streams and pools.

Because of the vast overpopulation of India. Since the upper-caste Hindus used the well. But the Danish people quickly caught on. The Nazis were forced to announce that the King had suddenly miraculously recovered and to give him complete freedom of his country for the rest of the years of the invasion. When the King took part in numerous such actions. It was circulated surreptitiously throughout the war years among the Danes as a means of encouraging them to further acts of resistance.

As he sank lower and lower. Civil police were called in to enforce the religious laws.

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Yet people obviously could not be punished for sending flowers. When Gandhi learned that Mr. The social structure of Hinduism was based upon a caste system. Let us take a single striking example. The law was thus nullified. It was a cat-and-mouse game. When local police. To make a long story short. But what was the result? Every road leading into Copenhagen. Gandhi directed his techniques not only against unjust governmental laws but also against equally unjust religious codes.

They took what they thought was the easiest way out by confining the King to his palace and announcing simply that he was ill. Henry David Thoreau is virtually a folkhero in Denmark today. The refusal of Negroes to ride segregated buses in Montgomery.

But despite the occasional official opposition— and I in all fairness must stress that the opposition has only been very.


Upton Sinclair. Or again. Individualism inspires free thought and actions based on a person own values, not the values of others. Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual, Individualism promote self-reliance and educate that interests of the individual should be given priority to the state or a social group and oppose any kind of external force upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government.

Individualism thus involves "the right of the individual to freedom and self-realization". Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are considered two of the most influential and inspiring transcendentalist writers of their time. Thoreau was a philosopher of Fazal 2 individualism, who placed nature above materialism in private life, and ethics above conformity in politics Henry David Thoreau strived for freedom and equality.

He was opinionated and argumentative. He stood up for what he believed in and was willing to fight for it Thoreau's essay, "Civil Disobedience," accentuated personal ethics and responsibility. It urged the individual to follow the dictates of conscience in any conflict between itself and civil law, and to violate unjust laws to invoke their repeal.

He boldly asserted that "the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right". He believed that radical social reforms such as the abolition of slavery, for example could be effected only when each conscious individual takes direct action on his own part. This method of "peaceful revolution" attained when an individual withdraws his support "in person and property" from the government that supports or permits the abuse and injustice.

Such as, for example, refuse to pay taxes to government is a kind of protest and resistance to injustices and abuse. Fazal 3 He claims that government always abuse people in some way or other by imposing roles and regulation. Although Thoreau may be a philosophical anarchist, he precisely uttered that having no government at all will be practicable only when the people are prepared for such a situation, and he indicates that they are not ready at that time.Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete list. It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; and it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it.

This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconciliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. I will breathe after my own fashion. The point of this task was to "anticipate" the seasons of nature, in his word.

How shall he ever know well what he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he shall treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. Each cell had two double-grated windows.