Comparing Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Comparing Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Length: 724 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

"...A little rebellion now and then is a good thing...It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government." Thomas JeffersonThoreau, a transcendentalist from the mid 19th century and Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights movement leader of a century later both believed the necessity of medicine for government. Although they showed disagreement of opinion on issues regarding voting, both writers agreed on the necessity to reform the government and the means of accomplishing it. In King's Letter from Birmingham Jail and Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, both agreed on injustice of majority to rule over minority, both resisted the government passively, and both wanted a better government immediately.The majority is not necessarily right, but they have always been the ones in power because they are the strongest and the most influential. Therefore, all the laws are written by the majority, almost all are in favor of the majority, and all are enforced by the majority. According to King, a law drafted by the majority is only just when the minority are willing to follow it. He wrote "An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself" (2:475).

In other words, if a law denies the right of the minority or is inflicted upon the minority by force, then it is not a just law. Similar opinions are shared by Thoreau, when he writes "But a government in which the majority r...

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »