Thoreau’s Act of Civil Disobedience

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Thoreau was once sent to jail for refusing to pay his taxes and I support this episode of civil disobedience as justified. Thoreau did not pay his taxes because he objected the use of the revenue to finance the Mexican War and enforcement of slavery laws. He did not request for his money to be used for the enforcement of slavery laws, therefore felt he had the right to protest and act out civil disobedience. Paul Harris defines civil disobedience as "an illegal, public, nonviolent, conscientiously motivated act of protest, done by someone who accepts the legitimacy of the legal and political systems and who submits to arrest and punishment" (2). Before I supported his civil disobedience, I opted to see if it was justified.

For Thoreau’s arrest to be an act of civil disobedience, it has to be publicized. Being publicized distinguishes his arrest as civil disobedience rather than being criminal (7). Thoreau had many people offering to pay his taxes but refused to take them. His refusal made his arrest publicized enough for someone to pay his taxes to release him from jail. Civil disobedient acts need to be publicized to show the participant is against the political system. Thoreau showed he was against paying taxes by wanting to stay in jail and arguing that he should be the only person to pay his own taxes. This indicates he wanted his disobedience justified.

For acts of civil disobedience to be justified, those acts need to be acts of protest. Thoreau desired a change ...

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