The minority, even though smaller, has the power to overrun the majority because they stand for what is right, and breaking the law is justifiable if you are breaking it by doing something that is morally correct. When should civil disobedience be condoned? I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. This is difference made legal. How does Thoreau develop the relationship between conscience and government? Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? It is important to notice that if civil disobedience was not effective, then it would not be continually used to disobey the law. Instructions for Civil Disobedience Though Thoreau begins the essay expressing his serious displeasure with the American government, he wasn't advocating for true anarchy.
They are rare in the history of the world. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? 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 way. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it.
There were some people that felt that the laws were unjust and morally wrong, so they committed a civil disobedience, but their actions later proved to be right and honored. In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. Why does it not cherish its wise minority? This includes not being a member of an unjust institution like the government. He also makes a connection with the clergymen on a religious level by often mentioning he is a man of God and believes in the same things they do. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and 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. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. Coined by American author and poet Henry David Thoreau, the term has developed to define the act of disobeying a law one sees as unfit or unjust. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. Thoreau's landmark essay has had a profound and well-documented influence on intellectual figures such as the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, Indian peace activist Mohandas Gandhi, black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He considered it an interesting experience and came out of it with a new perspective on his relationship to the government and its citizens. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it differed one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment.
Why do they not dissolve it themselves- the union between themselves and the State- and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. He went to for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. I was not born to be forced. Thoreau's essay made it clear that all citizens are morally implicated in the oppression practiced by a government even if indirectly affected by it.
One act of civil disobedience may be not paying taxes. A majority may be pro the laws, but how wrong the law is outweighs the number of people that support it. In 1845, he built a hut at Walden Pond on property owned by Emerson. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Archived from on September 22, 2017.
You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. What I really like about Thoreau that he was using a lot of different explanatory techniques, including an extraordinary speak to Pathos, and in addition significant employments of symbolism in order to achieve his goal of urging his audience that the best government is government which is one one of laissez-faire. How shall he ever know well what he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he shall treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Civil disobedience is a common avenue of protesting.
Forced to keep all men in prison or abolish slavery, the State would quickly exhaust its resources and choose the latter course of action. Paying is one way in which otherwise well-meaning people collaborate in injustice. While the need for abolition seems morally self-evident by contemporary standards, the issue of slavery in the 1840s and 1850s did not command a unified opinion among many white Americans, even in northern states. Philosophically, the concept of civil disobedience would appear to be an ineffective weapon against political injustice; history however has proven it to repeatedly be one of the most powerful weapons of the common man. He presents his own experiences as a model for how to relate to an unjust government: In protest of slavery, Thoreau refused to pay taxes and spent a night in jail. In addition to the war with Mexico, slavery is a chief concern in Thoreau's essay.