Thoreau's Role In Civil Disobedience

Topics: Civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 4 (753 words) Published: February 8, 2017


Throughout our history as a free society, countless nonviolent protests have arisen as a means to try to create change. Peaceful protest is not a new concept, even in America. Henry David Thoreau, a Transcendentalist writer in the 19th century, refused to pay taxes because he did not support the Mexican War. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau claims that so many men today blindly follow the government’s wishes and that “in most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense.” Peaceful protest is a way for men to “be men first, and subjects afterward,” expressing their opinions and acting as a catalyst for change in a free state. Without peaceful resistance, there would be little diversity of ideas; the government would control all policy without much regard to minority opinion, and scant progress would be made. Peaceful resistance is a means in which citizens are able to influence the laws and encourage progress. From Thoreau’s time to now, civil disobedience, to put it in Mr. Thoreau’s terms, has played a positive and necessary role in...

It becomes a kind of despotism where we seek to silence rather than engage.” Civil disobedience is a necessary part of free society, as it provides an avenue from which all people can make themselves heard, regardless of political power or economic status. Furthermore, it is necessary to keep the spirit of the first amendment alive, as peaceful protest is a way in which people exercise their right to free speech; without peaceful resistance to laws, little progress would be made in a free society, and the views of the majority would be imposed on the rest of the population. Acting as a catalyst for change, peaceful resistance one ingredient of the recipe that drives a free nation towards growth and...
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