Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience …

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience ..

Essay on the duty of civil disobedience and Walden ..

3. Under the circumstances Thoreau describes, is civil disobedience a duty, as he says? Explain how Thoreau describes; is civil disobedience a duty, as he says? Explain how Thoreau’s essay speaks to our own time. Is the essay dated? Is it sill relevant?


COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Essay: “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience ..

Tolstoy noticed it and asked Americans why they did not paymore attention to Thoreau's ideas instead of their financial andindustrial millionaires and their generals and admirals. MahatmaGandhi put civil disobedience into practice on a mass scale inSouth Africa and India; Martin Luther King used the techniquesin the civil rights movement, and anti-war activists have alsoapplied these principles, as we shall see in later chapters.

Librivox recording of On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, “I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go”; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. 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 hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

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