Henry David Thoreau's On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience

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In Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” he writes that he believes, “That government is best which governs itself”(1). This idea is what he centers his essay around as he delves into the thought that the government is simply there as a means to an end. He writes that he believes that the government should not have the right to interfere in mens lives and that there are times when the government has done this and has gotten in the way and stopped men from being able to achieve their greatest accomplishments. Therefore, the solution that Thoreau comes up with for overcoming this type of government is that,“we should be men first, and subjects afterward”. From this line the reader is able to discern that he means that the way in which a country should be ruled is by allowing the…show more content…
The idea that every human being has an internal moral compass that points them in the direction of making right and wrong decisions leads him into his discussion on civil disobedience as he believes that if a law does not jive with your moral consciousness then one should not have to obey it. He writes that he believes men serve the state as “machines” as there is very rarely any, “free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense”(3). It is clear to see that he believes by completely obeying ones government one must also disregard themselves to do this completely. This is clearly informed by his transcendentalist view of life that favors, “individualistic celebration of the divinity in each human being”(Oxford reference). Thoreau believes that this divinity is inside every human being and that, as stated before,
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