Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau Essay

976 Words Dec 9th, 2010 4 Pages
The essays by Martin Luther King Jr., “Letters From Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” show how one can be a civil person and protest against unfair, unjust laws forced upon them. Both authors are very persuasive in their letter writings. Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. write about the injustice of government laws, of right and wrong, and one’s moral and upstanding conscience of a human being. Martin Luther King Jr. is a religious, peaceful man who uses non-violent rallies to gather American’s to unite against segregation for the greater good and future of America. Henry David Thoreau writes of his own individual rights and those of others, which government opposes unlawful laws of taxes to …show more content…
Just as Dr. King Jr. was jailed for his beliefs, so was Thoreau. Thoreau writes in a “Civil Disobedience”, he tells us:

Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? - in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the last degree resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. (323)

Thoreau is asking why we must follow and why one must never question the laws set by the majority of people who run the government. Are we not individuals with a mind and conscience to know right from wrong? Thoreau believes one should be their own individual, and not let government control them. Both Thoreau, and Dr. King Jr. agree the law’s set by government are unjust and many times have a double standard for certain classes of citizen’s. Thoreau also states, “That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have” (322). Thoreau believes the best government is one that does not oppose unjust laws and lets it people live and think for themselves. This government will end up being a government for and of the people in the future. Martin Luther King
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