Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau, (1817-1862) American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist

Henry David Thoreau Quote

“I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mended. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour -- for the horse was soon tackled -- was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.”

Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau
~ Henry David Thoreau

A Duty of Civil Disobedience [1849], available at http://www.cs.indiana.edu/statecraft/civ.dis.html;
La Désobéissance civile, translated by Micheline Flak (Montréal: La Presse, 1973), p. 95

Ratings and Comments

Me Again
  • Reply
    Me Again    4/28/08

    Thoreau would suffer Great Culture Shock if he were to live in the USA today.There is nowhere today that State DNA is NOT Present.I long for the coming Awakening!

    jim k, austin, tx

    We will go a long way towards getting free of state thugs when we abolish all drug laws and the IRS. Someday , these two abominations will be simply bad memories and may that time come soon.

    Mike, Norwalk

    I have a child that was so entertained under the auspices of the Patriot Act. Allegedly, such malefactor child was participating in possible terrorist activity, that being traveling near 15 in a posted 10.

    Logan, Memphis, TN

    A Duty of Civil Disobedience is an excellent work, but obsolete within an acting Democracy. The Grecian ideology of the polis goes to show that in such a social framework there is room for any type of disobedience. Once the minority raises up in civil disobedience against any portion of the majority, then anarchy ensues until the minority is physically taken under control. Our founders sidestepped this problem by creating a system of government where laws were paramount to the minority OR the majority. Under such an Aristotelian model the founders realized that the poor would always want to secure their rights at the expense of the rich man's property, and that the rich man would want to protect his property at the expense of the poor man's rights; by establishing a system based on LAWS (eternal absolutes/principles of conduct -- or rather, "natural laws") rather than on a mere majority vote. Civil disobedience is acceptable within such a system as created by our founders, because such disobedience is not against the majority, per say, but to the laws.

    • Reply
    RobertSRQ    4/28/08

    We havn't changed much since the days of John Ball

    E Archer, NYC

    The only way to challenge unconstitutional laws is to disobey them and fight it in court. There has got to be a better way. We Americans are becoming WAY too obsessed with obedience and so-called 'security.' It is time we revived our rebellious side.


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