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Civil Disobedience is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau promoting the idea of prioritizing personal conscience over societal and governmental rules and regulations It criticizes 19th century practices that were condoned by the government such as slavery and the Mexican-American War Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher poet and environmental scientist who sought to revive a conception of philosophy as a way of life not only a monde of reflective thought and discourse Furtak 1 Thoreau was a transcendentalist Transcendentalists believe in the inherent goodness of both people and nature They blame society and its institutions for corrupting the purity of the individual Thoreau was introduced to transcendentalism by Ralph Waldo Emerson who was a major influence in his lifeIn 1848 Thoreau gave lectures at the Concord Lyceum under the title The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government These lectures which defended the validity of conscientious objection to unjust laws were the basis of the essay Resistance to Civil Government It was first published in 1849 The title Civil Disobedience does not appear until 1866 printed in a collection of Thoreaus work titled A Yankee in Canada with Anti-Slavery and Reform PapersThoreau sets the stage early in this essay starting it with the often cited quote I heartily accept the motto - That government is best which governs least Thoreau 112 This tells the reader Thoreaus stance on government in a quick to the point matter of fact way Thoreau believes government to be inherently bad and individuals to be inherently good Even with this point of view he still ascertains that all governmental power is derived from the support of individuals By paying taxes and not resisting Thoreau says even good people are in support of the governments evil deeds slavery and the Mexican War This flies in the face of the standard view of rules being
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