Thoreau's essay (1849) is a classic statement of the principles, later employed by and , of passive resistance against governmental authority on the basis of individual conscience.
A state cannot be absolutely free and enlightened until the government recognizes the importance of an individual.
Thoreau's essay revolves around three main themes: (i) civil government vs.
Justice is the administration of law, the act of determining rights and assigning rewards or punishments, "justice deferred is justice denied.” The terms of Justice is brought up in Henry David Thoreau’s writing, “Civil Disobedience.” Justice has different standards for every group that it is presented upon.
As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest." - from his
Playlist: Henry David Thoreau
According to Thoreau, a person cannot accept the government's authority unquestioningly.
► Thoreau introduces common people's right to revolution against an unjust government.
According to him, if the machine is producing injustice, citizens should work as a resistance to stop the machine.
The essay was reprinted in 1866, four years after Thoreau's death, in the collection of his work named The essay was printed with a new title called Civil Disobedience. The essay appears under titles as well.
The essay primary deals with slavery crisis in America in the 1840s and 1850s.
The lectures were titled as The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government. These lectures formed the base of his 1849 published essay Resistance to Civil Government. The essay was published in an anthology called The word "Resistance" from the title was apt for Thoreau's metaphor of comparing the government to a machine.
Thoreau stated that people "cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it" (25)....
While the individual rule would work well for Thoreau who is a man of conscience, it does not account for the immoral, dishonest or overly ambitious people in the nation....
His belief in demanding a better government was a great reminder that Thomas Jefferson insisted that it was our "duty, to throw off"(2) an unsatisfactory government in the "Declaration of Independence" ii Thoreau's essay also explained why people choose not to do anything about it.
The only certainty is to follow Thoreau’s advice: “The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right” (Thoreau 669).
He asserts that the government itself becomes an obstacle between achieving its purpose, the purpose for which it was created.
► However, Thoreau makes it clear that he is against abolishing the government, but wished for a better one.
...answers “It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscience men is a corporation with a conscience” (Thoreau 669).
Each author efficiently shows their main point; Thoreau deals with justice as it relates to government, he asks for,”not at one no government, but at once a better government.”(Paragraph 3).
If Henry David Thoreau were alive today, he would probably live in Montana, or Tucson, or a small rural town in New England with beautiful hiking trails. He'd be the scruffy guy in sandals who pads down to the public library once or twice or day to check his email, read the online, maybe surf a blog or two. You can see him scavenging a sandwich - he would say, "Can you believe it, a perfectly good sandwich that someone just threw away!" - from the trashcan as he walks home to write in his journal, admiring the blue sky, the birdsong, and a dozen other things that every one else takes for granted.
The Concord, Massachusetts native Henry David Thoreau was a writer, poet, naturalist, handyman and prophet of simple, sustainable living. Before you could purchase magazines with titles like , Thoreau was exhorting his fellow man to live with less stuff and more time for things that really matter. In 1845, he built a cabin on the shores of Concord's Walden Pond (on land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson) and proceeded to live a Spartan life for two years. His memoir of the experience, , has since become a bible for simplicity-seekers everywhere. As Emerson wrote after Thoreau's death in Concord in 1862, "He chose to be rich by making his wants few, and supplying them himself."
Thoreau's message has as much relevance today as it did in the 1860s. Thoreau was writing during tough economic times, when formerly self-reliant farmers were being displaced by an increasingly industrialized economy. Thoreau exhorted his readers to be thrifty, to do without unnecessary things, and to live with an appreciation for the simple things in life. We need his message now more than ever.