Thoreau's Criticism In Civil Disobedience

Improved Essays
As a philosopher and writer throughout the mid-1800s, Henry David Thoreau, mentions and criticizes social establishments within the United States. He states strongly on how he perceives the government and the way it governs its people, to follow the rules and regulations enclosed all throughout the leadership in the United States of America. As stated in his written essay, Civil Disobedience, “That government is best which governs least”. Where he felt the people should not regard the laws but follow through with what they believe is right disregarding the law imposed to the majority. He explains why the government doesn’t prove itself useful to the majority, why the government of the people are a very unjust government and how the system within is counterproductive. Thoreau declined the payment of taxes known to the reason of the contribution, where he did not see eye-to-eye with which was slavery. He contravened …show more content…
A man should be able to contain independency and self-regulation in aspects that the government has full control of. Not eliminating it as a whole but deluding the power throughout it and ideas that they feel is right or “best” for the people, practicing reinforcement and restoration of kernel values such as liberty and simply the courtesy of an individual. Especially with the fact that only an individual can exercise conscience when they know and/or feel the policies are prejudice, giving disobedience and refuse involvement. Just as Henry David Thoreau exercised himself by declining any involvement in paying a poll tax, which was providing towards the production of the Mexican War or the function of it. Due to the extension of slavery into new territories through the United States, where the South took advantage of this opportunity to expand “slave

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    It promotes prioritizing one 's consciousness over the law since government should be based upon conscience. He largely criticized the American social institutions and policies of the time, predominantly slavery and the Mexican American war, and in protest refused to pay his poll taxes. His justification was that if the government refused to improve their flawed manners then “"It is not a man 's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong” but it is “his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and...not to give it practically his support.” Thoreau exposes how government is an expedient which solely exists because the people have allowed this body to execute their will, though it is not immune to misuse. Government is meant to protect individual freedoms and so when these are infringed upon, man 's obligation is to ideologically detach himself from it. He points out how in reality the opponents of reform are ordinary people who cooperate with unjust systems, then claiming that when necessary one must break the law to be a “counter fiction to stop the machine.” Rather than advocate for anarchy and obliteration of government, he takes a moderate approach by instead urging for progression into a more democratic America.…

    • 1355 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Also through uses his words by explaining that we as a society should not learn lessons neither from the government nor from the laws, the essay “But if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn” (“Civil Disobedience”…

    • 545 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Governments are to be put in place to protect a person’s rights and freedom not to destroy and conquer. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” (Norton Anthology, pg.340) The British government rule over the American colonies was not a consensual agreement, it was something that was forced upon the early American people and those people had no authority over…

    • 2174 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Conscience is defined “as the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong,” by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Henry Thoreau, a philosopher, writer and transcendentalist, understood the individual to be capable of his own conscience. Throughout his essay, “Civil Disobedience”, which was published in 1849, Thoreau states that the American government is creating “unjust laws” and that the people “in effect do nothing to put an end to them” (149). Meaning, individuals in government allow for a “corrupt State”, the citizens are aware of these actions, yet choose to obey the laws; therefore, “he is not a leader, but a follower” (163). In terms of conscience, Thoreau poses the question, “Can there…

    • 703 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The things that connect the English colonies to their superiors, Britain, was that being ruled by the parliament and the British King. The way the king ruled and his laws were not up to par for the colonists because of his dictatorship and unjustly taxations. The simple thought of the English being ruled by an island that they could not even see and they also had very poor communication with. Between this and lack of the king being able to overlook the colonies, did not do justice for neither Britain nor the American colonies. Although there are many different factors that led up to the American Revolution there are two factors that were huge.…

    • 839 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    This paper will examine the purpose of the state by looking at two-political thinkers John Locke and Karl Marx. The ideas of Locke’s theories are about the “good of the government” meaning that people need a government to rule over them and enforce laws that will be followed by everyone. However, this concept was not shared by Marx as he was aware of the injustice of the government, which is to only protect the (bourgeoisie) who are the capitalist and oppress the (proletarians) who are the working class. John Locke, wrote the state of nature in the book second Treatise on Civil Government (1680), during the British civil war. Locke was a firm believer of Christianity (Locke,1680, sec 6) and he believed all mankind are born equal regardless…

    • 1685 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Mark R. Rank Poverty

    • 1084 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Rank’s third and least purposeful reason deals with the fact that the issues with personal poverty stem from the government, rather than from the people themselves. This reason is most problematic in the fact that it directly contradicts the rest of his argument. Through stating this purpose, Dr. Rank directly acknowledges that the government is a necessary factor in overcoming the problem of poverty. He also presents the assumption that most of what the government is doing to end poverty is wrong. As I stated earlier, Dr. Rank blatantly blames the issues of the impoverished people upon themselves rather than the government, claiming poverty to be a societal issue rather than a governmental issue.…

    • 1084 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” was a well written excerpt from 1848, which discussed the many issues on the power, process, and abilities of the United States government. One of the main problems he talks about is the problem of the government overruling the majority to their own legislative consciences. He believed that because of this, the American government was corrupt and faulty. He states: “The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it”.…

    • 589 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Summary Of Tocqueville

    • 1744 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Morality is inherent in mankind, whereas justice is created to conform to the beliefs of the people. The majority decides what is right or wrong until it creates a justice system to govern morality based on the foundation of justice they created. As Tocqueville states in Democracy in America, “there exists a general law which has been made, or at least adopted, not only by the majority of this or that people but by the majority of men. This law is justice” (107). From the influence of the decided upon morality- Americans went on to construct their way of judging morality - people blindly follow this system because Americans have been lead to believe the system of justice we have actually does judge morality and thus disagreeing with this the system is challenging morality.…

    • 1744 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    He (the monarch) does not wrong, because lawful/unlawful and good/evil are at the discretion of the will of the sovereign. Locke disagrees and states that the state exists to solely to protect the natural rights of its people. When a government fails to do so, citizens have the right (and even the duty) to renounce their support and even to rebel. Locke opposes Hobbes’s view that the original state of nature was “nasty, brutish, and short,” and that people, by way of a social contract, yielded their rights as to benefit their own self. Locke counters with this, “And hence it is that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does…

    • 1322 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays