Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau

Topics: Civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr., Law Pages: 3 (972 words) Published: December 3, 2010
The essays by Martin Luther King Jr., “Letters From Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” show how one can be a civil person and protest against unfair, unjust laws forced upon them. Both authors are very persuasive in their letter writings. Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. write about the injustice of government laws, of right and wrong, and one’s moral and upstanding conscience of a human being. Martin Luther King Jr. is a religious, peaceful man who uses non-violent rallies to gather American’s to unite against segregation for the greater good and future of America. Henry David Thoreau writes of his own individual rights and those of others, which government opposes unlawful laws of taxes to support a Mexican war and slavery.

Although each essay were written more then 100 years apart, both authors were jailed for having a similar goal, standing up for their rights, and the rights of others. Henry David Thoreau in 1846 while refusing to pay taxes opposed on him by the government, and Martin Luther King Jr. a Civil Rights Leader in 1963, for protesting to end segregation. While in Birmingham Martin Luther King Jr. was protesting in a peaceful non-violent protest against unlawful segregation, he was jailed for protesting without a permit. Accused by his fellow clergymen of being, “unwise and untimely” (154). Dr. King Jr. wrote in a return letter to them stating his sorrow and disappointment of their judgment upon him, Dr. King Jr., tells us:

One who breaks and unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. (161)

Dr. King Jr. is telling his fellow clergymen although he is not one for breaking or disobeying the law,...
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