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Lincoln has been credited as being a person that fought for equality between races, when he himself believed that African Americans were inferior, the image people give him is unreal, propaganda by the Radical Republicans in the reconstruction era. Many people have ideas that do not hold up when put to the test, or even their own reasoning. Henry David Thoreau’s ideas and ideals do not hold up when compared to reality.
Thoreau believed that if a man did less work, the better it would be for the man and his community. He set out to accomplish this task, and accomplished not working, but failed to prove his point. He died at age forty-five, younger then most people in his time, and although he did benefit his community, doing little labor only shortened his life, and proved no better for the community.
Not only does reality disprove Thoreau’s theology, but his own words contradict him. He proclaimed “the government that governs least is the best,” (Civil Disobedience pg. 222 paragraph 1) and then says that, “We have had to agree on a certain set of rules… to make this frequent meeting tolerable…” (Solitude pg. 95 paragraph 3). His contradiction is evident, what is government but on how the people conduct their meetings, lacking the laws of the government, the society would collapse.
He also criticizes the government for not being virtuous (Ponds pg. 119 last paragraph). The American government is controlled by the people, if he wants a government that is virtuous, he should either get elected, or try to get the non-virtuous people out of office. Further, politicians who made their name elsewhere have said things to the effect of, “either you already have a name for yourself, or somewhere along the line you sell your soul…” essentially saying that virtue and politics don’t work together.
Thoreau further shows how he cannot support his own ideas when he says that he spent two years “alone, in the woods,”(Economy pg. 7, 1st sentence). He did not spend two years “alone” and a great period of the time which he was there was not “in the woods.” In fact, he had as many as thirty guests at a time (Visitors pg. 97 last line). He tries to show how he had few visitors in the winter saying, “…no visitor ventured near my house for a week or a fortnight at a time,” (Winter Visitors pg.
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Thoreau has been known to be an individualist, believing that the individual should express his own ideas (What I lived For pg. 66 paragraph 2), but then he condemns all those who do not share his ideas. “There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery… [who] do nothing about it” (Civil Disobedience pg. 226, paragraph 1).
Did Thoreau realize how when one compared his words with reality or even his words, that it is apparent that even though he thought out his words, he failed to compare them. He believes in individuality, then he has restrictions on the type of individual you can be; he propagates that he is one way, when he is another; and he condemns the Gov’t for governing and then verifies its need to govern. I’ve heard of having two faces, but Thoreau makes the hydra look normal.