Thoreau And King 's Ideas On Civil Disobedience

1267 WordsJul 2, 20166 Pages
Comparing and Contrasting: Thoreau and King’s Ideas on Civil Disobedience Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817, a time where slavery was legal. In 1849 Thoreau published an essay “Civil Disobedience” which explains his idea that the government is much more harmful than helpful and that man has the right to disobey the government when he feels it is being unjust, in his case it was slavery, American Imperialism, and the Mexican-American War. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, 64 years after slavery was abolished, but America was still a racist country. A country made up of segregation of blacks from whites. In 1963 King wrote a letter while incarcerated defending his fellow African-American brethren for the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. Although Thoreau and King were two men born in different eras they had similar, and sometimes-different moral belief systems, which helped them establish righteousness and pave the way for movements all around the world. A question that has been brought to light is whether King may have read Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” before writing his letter and the answer is yes because he seems to share some of the same ideas as Thoreau about peaceful protest and fighting for what you want. Thoreau states “... if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice . . . then I say break the law (312)” because it is unjust and a person is entitled to break the law if they believe it is wrong. King states,

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