The Importance of Civil Disobedience

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Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez. Each of these people were leaders and role models to different civil rights movements. However, they all share similar views on how society should react to oppression. The motive behind each and every protest in American History is civil disobedience, an idea thought up by Thoreau while he spent the night in jail, due to tax evasion. He believed “that government is best which governs least.”1 His revolutionary idea weaved its way into the fabric of American life. As free people, we see it as our right to protest any laws we see unjust. In a society which controls, the need to rebel will always be present. This theme is abundant throughout the many different time periods in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.

Early American newspapers were often opinion based. These articles slowly became less and less fond of the King and his laws. For example, the Pennsylvania Gazette contains many articles pertaining to the injustice of the stamp act. This particular paper contains a segment from a meeting with the Sons of Liberty. The first point states, “we will cheerfully, to the utmost of our power, defend all of our just rights and privileges, as they have always been heretofore allowed us”2. The Sons of Liberty make it clear to the public that no injustices will go unnoticed. The paper continues, “that we will oppose all attempts to deprive us of our rights and privileges as Englishmen. And therefore will at all events oppose the operation of that defeatable thing called the Stamp Act, in this colony”3 This article is one of the first to take a stand against oppression. The Sons of Liberty published many columns similar to this one in papers throughout the colonies. Although these articles may seem aggressive the motive is still passive. “That we will, in all cases, behave ourselves peaceably as far as our influence extends, weill preserve the public peace...”4 They are recognized as pioneers in the field of...
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