Civil Disobedience, By Henry David Thoreau

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“Civil Disobedience,” written by Henry David Thoreau – originally published as “Resistance to Civil Government” in Aesthetic Papers (1849) and motivated by slavery and the Mexican-American War – discusses the hold government has on individuals in a society and the potential risks, as well as solutions, to overcoming the majority consciousness. Thoreau opens his essay with words he believes every government should live by: “That government is best which governs least.” Thoreau expresses that traditional government is often an inhibitor to the fluidity of justice and the desires of the majority, as well as the minority. As detailed, the American people have established a desire for some complicated concept to derive their government in order to consider themselves satisfied with what they believe government should be. However, according to Thoreau, it appears that this highly mechanized being known as the U.S. government has better served its purpose when it stood down and allowed the people to speak. Contrary to popular American belief, the government did not expand westward, educate American society, nor ensure the freedom of the country’s people; rather, the will and hard work of the American individuals themselves fostered such success. Following these introductory arguments, Thoreau counters his strong-willed voice with a statement demonstrating his respect for democracy and desire for a more effective government. Moreover, Thoreau claims that the American government listens to the desires of the majority, not the most informed and virtuous, therefore, the government houses an inability to determine the indicators of justice. Using warfare and politics as examples, Thoreau further claims that the government trains dog-like sold... ... middle of paper ... ... had been accused of burning down a barn. Thoreau realized his earlier point, that one is better off fighting injustice if they had experienced it first, while in jail and learned the other world which was just beyond the chain-link fences in his own native town. Thoreau doesn’t believe it to be sinful that he often thinks about how men should be instead of accepting who they really are – truly due to the injustices he sees. He doesn’t see politicians as leaders, but as followers to the Constitution, and further, to the men who devised it. Respect for the strides America takes to maintain democracy is established, but the question of whether democracy is really the final step in establishing the near perfect is equally as respected by Thoreau. Thoreau concludes with his strong-willed voice, but now expresses hope for the future of America and its evolving government.
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