Henry David Thoreau

Topics: Henry David Thoreau, Civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 3 (955 words) Published: December 4, 2011
Henry David Thoreau was a transcendentalist writer during the 1800s. While Muhammad Ali was an Islamic boxer born in 19 42 and is still living today. One would think that these two would have beliefs and proceedings that completely contradict each other. However, even though Henry David Thoreau and Muhammad Ali have similar beliefs, their approaches towards civil disobedience couldn’t be more different. Thoreau seemed to be a man who cared only for himself and did whatever he wanted whenever and wherever. This was obvious in his strong “individualism” shown though how little he cared for meeting “external expectations” (Wilson 151). Thoreau’s good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said that he thinks “the severity of his ideal interfered to deprive him of healthy sufficiency of human society” (qtd. in Wilson 152). This showed how Thoreau cared more for his own beliefs and values than anything else. He also showed how little he cared what society thought when he moved into a small cabin for two years, two months, and two days and isolated himself to experiment with aspects of his life (“Henry David Thoreau” 1). Thoreau’s dealings with civil disobedience were very peaceful, which may be the reason why he was claimed as an influence by both Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. The main action Thoreau used as to display his civil disobedience was the one thing he was exceptionally good at, writing. Thoreau wrote a few essays and letters on his views of numerous aspects. In essence, the essays allowed Thoreau to share what he thought with a wide variety of people. In one instance he wrote a letter to William Garrison’s The Liberator [an abolitionist newspaper during the 1800s] defending the right of Wendell Phillip’s right to speak in the Concord Lyceum

[Phillip was denied the right to speak because of his antislavery position] (Wilson 132). Another act by Thoreau that was still peaceful but not as silent was when he spent a night in jail for refusing to...
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