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An Analysis Of Henry David Thoreau's Resistance To Civil Government

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Henry David Thoreau’s work “Resistance to Civil Government” was, arguably, the most important thing he ever committed to paper. It influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and an uncountable legion of free-thinkers besides. Interpretations of Thoreau’s work are varied, but ultimately, the interpretation of the work matters little. It is a blueprint for anti-authoritarians of all stripe, for those that value the individual and those that demand a government to function in service of its citizens rather than despite them.
Henry David Thoreau said of his time spent in the woods near Walden Pond, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Thoreau’s work, particularly “Resistance to Civil Government”, has achieved immortality perhaps because of this adventurous, wild spirit, but notable also is Thoreau’s rebellious streak present in the work, informed by much of his earlier experience as an active abolitionist and the single
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“The consequence of such mindless and mechanical subservience is the present war with Mexico the rendition of runaway slaves, and the nearly contentious expansion of gross institution of slavery.”( Myerson 202) Thoreau believed that a moral revolution through passive resistance and civil disobedience is necessary to relieve these problems. “It is not a man’s duty to…to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty at least, to wash his hands of it, and if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his
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