“Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau was a means of educating people on why they should not settle for a less than perfect government. Thoreau’s work is a reminder that it is our duty to throw off an unsatisfactory government, as stated by Thomas Jefferson in the “Declaration of Independence.” Civil Disobedience touches on the subject of why people choose to do nothing about a government they are unhappy with. People fear the consequences they might suffer if they do interfere with the current government. Thoreau stated people "cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it" (Thoreau 681). Therefore, most people would not try to …show more content…
Refusing to pay taxes would be considered mostly harmless, however, they are others whose efforts to improve the government have gone drastically overboard and they cause harm to others. Some commit federal crimes against the government, such as a bombing. Since some means are violent and destructive, some may think Thoreau’s ideas cause more harm than good. Because Thoreau’s ideas conspire against the government, some would think his ideas would cause anarchy and/or chaos. Bei Dao’s poem “The Answer” was considered to be defiant towards the Chinese government during the 1960s and 1970s. In the poem, Dao states that "If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet, Count me as number one thousand and one. (Dao)” Basically Dao is saying he was tired of seeing people being held back by a corrupt government. It was his hope that by writing about it, people would realize what was happening and stand up for themselves. Dao’s work gave many people hope that they could change the government, and that is exactly what happened. People protested against the government in the Tiananmen Square movements in 1979 and 1989. Consequently, the government changed the way in which it treated its people. There is plenty of evidence showing that a corrupt government is ruling society today. Politicians are often charged with some sort of financial crime. In addition, a large number of political leaders have lied to everyone about their actions while in
From the start of man fighting for freedom or his beliefs, the question has consistently been whether a person can wage a battle using words rather than actions. The notion of civil disobedience would seem to be an inept weapon against political inequity; history, however, has persistently proven it to be the most dynamic weapon of the individual. By refusing to pay his taxes and subsequently being imprisoned, Henry David Thoreau demonstrated this very defiance. Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government conveys the effectiveness of the individual conscience, renounces hypocrisy, and cultivates a sense of urgency where inaction creates a moral conflict. This path of responsibility paved by Thoreau gave our leaders of today the means they
In Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he is writing to the American people. He is trying to spark a desire for change, for people to oppose their government without actions. He uses this work to criticize the American institution of slavery as well as the Mexican-American War. Thoreau is attempting to convey the importance of listening to one’s conscience over the laws, believing that it is more important to do what they feel is right rather than listen to the laws given by the majority. Thoreau feels that people should protest against their government, but not using violent actions. He is trying to persuade the people to voice their opinions and break the chain of majority rule. Thoreau is writing during the time of the war between the United States and Mexico, which took place between 1846 and 1848. He writes to oppose the government’s actions and policies during this time period. He refused to pay a tax that would support the war and was imprisoned for a day. Thoreau uses ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade his audience to agree with his view of the American government and to voice their oppositions.
According Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he mentions that to require civil disobedience, the circumstances must be like America’s. Circumstances like practicing war, deriving power from the people, having unjust laws, and supporting slavery. Thoreau writes, “must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation?” (Thoreau ). He mentions how no man should be subdued to any government or institution, especially if it portrays unjust. Therefore he also implies that if a law exhibits unjust, the population should not follow the law with the knowledge of the consequence. Similarly, Thoreau establishes, “when . . . a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize,” (Thoreau ). He explains how it expresses the duty of Americans to rebel and use civil disobedience, it is not just a right, but it drives Americans to be aware of and completely use for the advantage of society. Thoreau further explains the unlawful government by stating, “I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which the slave's government also,” (Thoreau ). He describes the circumstance of America as a prejudiced institution, which rightfully allows citizens to use their duty of civil disobedience. A government should require unjust laws, slavery, aggressive law, and strength over intelligence to cause civil disobedience. However, civil disobedience a citizen’s duty and they must maintain it.
Thoreau and Paine are both suggesting that the United States citizens should disobey their government, but the ways in which these authors are suggesting are in
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience talks about politics, government and the issues concerning these areas today. "Government is best which governs least." This motto means that the government should not have complete power over the people. The people's opinion is what matters the most. Individualism is stressed throughout his writing. To stand up for what you believe in and not bend backwards for the government is necessary. He speaks of Slavery and the war in Mexico and how is must be put to a stop. The people are responsible for this happening. Many people opposed these things yet did nothing to change it. Allowing yourself to be a part of injustice makes you a part of the negativity. Paying taxes to a corrupt government makes you
In Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, he argues that when civil laws conflict with an individual's morality, the individual should follows his conscience. Thoreau like many Transcendentalists felt a less involved government was best. Thoreau wrote, "That government is best which governs not at all." Obviously, Thoreau realized that he could afford to take this open opinion on government because of the American government. But he felt that government's authority should be limited to physical matters of the country, such as infrastructure and orderliness. He felt a government that become involved in moral matters such as sobriety and slavery was a government over-stepping its boundaries. Ultimately, Thoreau and other transcendentalists felt a utopian society would be the best.
Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher known for his interest in politics; specifically raising awareness about the injustice committed by the American government. He’s the author of prominent works like Civil Disobedience and Slavery in Massachusetts, which set the setting for the United States at the time. Both of these works follow a common theme of perseverance through difficult times and the role of the self when choosing right from wrong. Thus, he was deeply engaged in the idea of individualism, suggesting that we are “men first and subject after”. His beliefs led him to refuse to pay taxes as an act of protest against the Mexican War; he was imprisoned for a night and this sparked in him the inspiration to write Civil
Civil disobedience is defined as the “refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in government policy or legislation, characterized by nonviolent means”; theories on this topic have been debated for centuries. (American Heritage Dictionary 3rd Edition pg161) Henry David Thoreau was well known for his refusal to participate in the political systems or activities of his era, not only by refusing to pay his poll taxes for six consecutive years, but also by announcing that he did not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau stresses the need to prioritize one’s conscience over the dictates of laws. A person should not be obligated to devote his or her life to eliminating evils from the world, but is only obligated not to participate in such evils themselves. He argues that the government rarely proves itself useful and this derives from the power from the majority because they are the strongest group, not because they hold the most legitimate views. Justice is the quality of being just, impartial or fair. Thoreau doubted the effectiveness of reform within the government, and argued that voting and petitioning for change served useless. He felt that justice had different standards for each different group. Which raises the question, is justice fair for everyone? When a government is unjust, people should
One reason I think Thoreau writes an effective argument is because of his freedom of speech. Thoreau did not want to pay the Poll Tax, because he did not support the Mexican-American War. The Poll tax is a tax levied on every adult, without reference to income or resources. In 1842, Thoreau stopped paying the poll tax, it supported the expansion of slavery into the southwest. Mexican-American War was fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. The Untied States won the war, encouraged by the feelings of many Americans that the country was accomplishing its manifest destiny of expansion. Civil Disobedience is the belief that people should not conform to society, but stay independent and embrace their own beliefs goals, values, and morals.
Thoreau is basically rallying for the absence of government in the lives of the citizens. He believed that everyone should govern himself. He also believed that no one should have to ride on the shoulders of the government, but instead rely on himself. He thought people should treat other people the way they wanted to be treated, and follow the natural laws of society. Martin Luther King Jr. believed there should be laws or it would be total anarchy. Thoreau believed that without the
Thoreau’s essay represents his beliefs about the government in 1849. He uses several logos with credible examples, and uses the emotions of the audience to support his argument. The first example of logos he uses is when he says, “The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.” His claim is that it is unconstitutional to have an army standing or ready when everything is peaceful. The government should act under this same rule; if there is peace then the government should not be standing so to speak. Throughout the essay he continues to provide credible examples of why the government abuses its power and is useless; such as when he says “Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay written based on his disproval’s and arguments about mistreatment from the government. Within Henry David Thoreau essay, he points out his views on how he sees people getting treated for being different. Henry David Thoreau believed that people should fight for their rights like everyone other citizens has. Henry David Thoreau illustrates in his essay, “But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it” . Henry David Thoreau sees and knows that the government has no justice towards the people, those who get their rights see it as
Henry David Thoreau was an American writer and protester, who wrote the influential essay “Civil Disobedience”. In his essay, he advocates for citizens to protest against government actions that they deem unjust and to stand up for one’s rights, putting morals before law,
Thoreau believed that we should fight against injustice through non-violence, instead of being neither acquiescent nor using physical violence. “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.” This meant that we should stop the government and corporations that had no conscience. He deemed that
After reading “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, I believe that this historic piece of literature can still have a substantial impact upon the current beliefs of the American people. The reason that this essay has such significance to America is because this essay addresses the proper way to go about civil disobedience in addition to providing education about the nature of civil disobedience. I believe the most significant message that this essay could teach Americans is expressed in this quote, “A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” This quote expresses the need to not just believe in a cause but to actively support it. This is in contrast to a wide spread phenomenon called false activism that is prominent in society. We all know someone who is, and for the most part all of us are guilty of seeing a cause online, claiming to support it, and then not doing a single thing to progress the cause. For example, most everyone you talk to would claim to strongly support more environmentally friendly methods of gathering energy yet the majority of us have not done anything to progress the cause of green energy.