Rhetorical Analysis of Civil Disobedience

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Individuals of good conscience should actively oppose unjust government policies through nonviolent resistance, such as refusal to pay taxes. If an individual felt that a law was unjust, he/she should then break it. According to Henry David Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience, the United States government back in the time of slavery, and the era of the Mexican War, was corrupt, weak, and abused its powers. Thoreau had strong feelings toward the abolition of slavery, and he also felt that the Mexican War was an unjust conflict. He believed that individuals should stand up and take action against the group that promotes their own selfish interests at the expense of morality, ethics, and individual rights; otherwise known as the government.

Throughout his essay, Thoreau talks about how the government is corrupt, weak, and they abuse their powers, and he feels that power should be in the hands of the people. He feels that the more power the people have, instead of the government, it gives a majority, which is not only fair, or right, but physically the strongest. He shows this when he says, “But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it” (Thoreau 323). The people chose the government to render their wants and needs, but instead a few individuals use the standing government as he/she’s tool to carry out unjust laws. Thoreau uses the example of the Mexican War, and if the choice were given to the people, they would not have approved of those kinds of measures. According to Thoreau, if even one single man acted on his opinions, he himself could take down the government. Thoreau thinks that those who think with their heads and not their morals are likely to serve with the devil. His opinion of this is clear when he says, “Others,...
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