Martin Luther King vs. Thoreau

Topics: Civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry David Thoreau Pages: 2 (774 words) Published: March 6, 2014
Written over 114 years after Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience”, Martin Luther King wrote his most famous essay; “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In the times of Henry David Thoreau there was only one topic of politics in the United States, slavery. Many southerners wanted to keep slavery while many northerners were against it. Henry David Thoreau was a white northerner that was against slavery, and he was willing to go to jail for it. He proved that in writing his famous letter. In the letter Thoreau describes what it means to be civilly disobedient. In Thoreau’s terms, Civil Disobedience is standing up peacefully against laws you do not think are moral. He was civilly disobedient in not paying poll taxes for over six years because he knew the money was used to support slavery. Martin Luther King was a great civil rights leader that lived in the period of the Civil Rights Movement. King went to jail for a peaceful march against racial hatred after he was specifically told not to march. He was put in a jail in Birmingham for eight days; this is when he wrote his famous letter in response to a letter from eight Alabama clergymen. He was arguing against racial hatred and used the effects of ethos, pathos, and logos to attain his argument. Although Thoreau is formal with his writing and uses plenty of logical reasoning to attain his point, King is more like likely t move the readers due to his ability to reach your emotional side, and his credibility as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

Thoreau was not the best with pathos, but he did do some things well with his emotional appeal. At one point in the essay, he argues that people are more worried about money and their jobs than they care about humanity. Thoreau says, “Merchants and Farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity”. This line effectively reaches the emotional side due to its speaking of humanity. Overall, Thoreau is not good at involving...
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