Henry David Thoreau And The Role Of Government Essay

Decent Essays

Miguel, Cruz
Melissa, Carr
LIT 2020
17 May 2016
Thoreau and the Role of Government
America has always been a supposedly democratic country, where all men were considered to be equal. This idea was put forth by the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents, and can be seen idealized in the poems of Walt Whitman and the writings of other American authors of the 19th century. However, the government's focus on equality and civic engagement was not always carried out faithfully. In his essay "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau contends that people ought not to allow governments to overrule their hearts, and argues that they have an obligation to empower the proper rule of a country instead of quietly surrendering to unjust practices.
The country of the United States of America was founded in response to the unfair government of King George II, whose English parliament, and the governors and authorities who represented him in the colonies, created and enforced policies which benefited themselves while damaging the livelihoods and the lifestyles of …show more content…

This is similar to the motives of the writers of the Declaration, who took strong action to create their ideal form of government. Thoreau develops the theme of the individual's civic responsibility to stand up to bad government throughout his essay, and he points to the existence of slavery and the Mexican-American war (389), among other things, as examples of how bad the American government has become. After describing his own small act of rebellion by refusing to pay poll tax and being put in jail for it (402), Thoreau argues that it is only by being "free" in thought and imagination (410), and by "the seasonable experience and effectual complaints of the people" (412) that American government can achieve

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