Henry David Thoreau 's Life Essay

1559 Words Oct 9th, 2014 7 Pages
David Henry Thoreau (known as Henry David Thoreau to the general populous) was born in 1817 in Concord, where his father, John, was a shopkeeper. John moved his family to Chelmsford and Boston, following business opportunities. In 1823, the family moved back to Concord where John established a pencil-making company that eventually brought financial stability to the family. Thoreau 's mother, Cynthia Dunbar, took in boarders for many years to help make ends meet. It was eventually decided that Henry should go to Harvard College, as had his grandfather before him; his sister Helen and brother John Jr. contributed from their teaching salaries to help pay his expenses, at that time about $179 a year.
At the time, Harvard put heavy emphasis on the classics; Thoreau studied Latin and Greek grammar for three of his four years and took courses in mathematics, English, history, and mental, natural, and intellectual philosophy. He was never happy about the teaching methods used at Harvard and it is said that Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked that most of the branches of learning were taught at Harvard, and Thoreau replied, "Yes, indeed, all the branches and none of the roots" (Witherell).
Thoreau returned to Concord after his graduation in 1837 and began teaching, first at the district school, and then in a school he opened with his brother John. When the school closed in 1841, Thoreau accepted an offer to stay with the neighboring Emerson family and earn his keep as a handyman while…

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