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Civil Disobedience Henry David Thoreau American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord Mass in 1817 Thoreau a graduate of Harvard in 1837 is considered one of the most influential figures in American thought and literature Known for being an individualist Thoreau fought against materialism and social conformity This individualistic belief is reflected in his numerous writings In one of Thoreaus most noted and influential works the essay Civil Disobedience he begins an attack on the philosophy of a strong ruling government by agreeing with the powerful motto Government is best which governs least Thoreau further states that he holds the expectation that man will be able to have a government that does not govern at all He believes that the need for the American government really arises from the requirement of people to have a sort of machine to control things and make their decisions for them Thoreau eludes that the only time government has helped is when it has stood aside In fact government does not keep the country free settle the west or educate rather such achievements come from the character of the American people The question that arose in my mind was how do I act toward the government then The message I received from reading Thoreau is to avoid associating with government all together that people should live by their conscience not the laws of an unjust government When people do this they can explore new ideas and be creative Thoreau is challenging the average person to live up to their potential In the essay Thoreau goes on to say that most people threaten revolution when they are forced to deal with a tyrannical or unproductive government He feels that the American people have not only the right but a duty to rebel when faced with problems such as slavery and Mexican invasion From this I feel that Thoreau encourages people to stand
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