Segregation made the blacks feel inferior and unequal. King led many black protesters to use methods such as banning busses, sit ins, and marches. Those who commit civil disobedience do so, not to break the law, however to correct an injustice, and thus accept the consequences for breaking the law. King is establishing that they have a goal to achieve: He further states that those who agree to acts of civil disobedience must do so accepting the consequences that come with it.
Civil disobedience has sometimes been characterized as an attack on our democratic government, however this notion does not hold true. In other words, people are taking unjust action to better a situation because of how it is unequal. Dusen believes that whatever the reason, disobeying the law is defying our democratic government and our legal system. When a civil disobedient disobeys… [he] says that he is above the law….
Followers of civil disobedience are only against the law which is against them-the law which is against allowing them the equal treatment that they deserve. When the government fails to acknowledge their right for equality, they must act against the law. Civil disobedience, when used to insure equal rights, is not disrespecting our democratic government, but rather enforces the tradition which our forefathers have created to improve our government.
Our legal system was made so that we could enforce legal channels of change, if we choose to neglect this attribute then we as humans cannot progress. Work cited Thoreau, H. Essential Readings for College Writer. Home Essays Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience 9 September We will write a custom essay sample on. A limited time offer! The government, according to Thoreau, is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice.
Because of this, it is "not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize". Political philosophers have counseled caution about revolution because the upheaval of revolution typically causes a lot of expense and suffering. Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. Thoreau tells his audience that they cannot blame this problem solely on pro-slavery Southern politicians, but must put the blame on those in, for instance, Massachusetts , "who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them.
Thoreau's Slavery in Massachusetts which also advances this argument. He exhorts people not to just wait passively for an opportunity to vote for justice, because voting for justice is as ineffective as wishing for justice; what you need to do is to actually be just. This is not to say that you have an obligation to devote your life to fighting for justice, but you do have an obligation not to commit injustice and not to give injustice your practical support.
Paying taxes is one way in which otherwise well-meaning people collaborate in injustice. People who proclaim that the war in Mexico is wrong and that it is wrong to enforce slavery contradict themselves if they fund both things by paying taxes. Thoreau points out that the same people who applaud soldiers for refusing to fight an unjust war are not themselves willing to refuse to fund the government that started the war.
In a constitutional republic like the United States, people often think that the proper response to an unjust law is to try to use the political process to change the law, but to obey and respect the law until it is changed. But if the law is itself clearly unjust, and the lawmaking process is not designed to quickly obliterate such unjust laws, then Thoreau says the law deserves no respect and it should be broken.
In the case of the United States, the Constitution itself enshrines the institution of slavery, and therefore falls under this condemnation. Abolitionists , in Thoreau's opinion, should completely withdraw their support of the government and stop paying taxes , even if this means courting imprisonment. Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.
A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose.
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
Because the government will retaliate, Thoreau says he prefers living simply because he therefore has less to lose. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.
He was briefly imprisoned for refusing to pay the poll tax , but even in jail felt freer than the people outside. He considered it an interesting experience and came out of it with a new perspective on his relationship to the government and its citizens. He was released the next day when "someone interfered, and paid that tax".
Thoreau said he was willing to pay the highway tax, which went to pay for something of benefit to his neighbors, but that he was opposed to taxes that went to support the government itself—even if he could not tell if his particular contribution would eventually be spent on an unjust project or a beneficial one.
Because government is man-made, not an element of nature or an act of God , Thoreau hoped that its makers could be reasoned with. As governments go, he felt, the U. But he felt we could and should insist on better. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government?
Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.
An aphorism often erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson ,  "That government is best which governs least I heartily accept the motto,—"That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—"That government is best which governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.
Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi a. Mahatma Gandhi was impressed by Thoreau's arguments. In , about one year into his first satyagraha campaign in South Africa , he wrote a translated synopsis of Thoreau's argument for Indian Opinion , credited Thoreau's essay with being "the chief cause of the abolition of slavery in America", and wrote that "Both his example and writings are at present exactly applicable to the Indians in the Transvaal.
Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced. At the time of the abolition of slavery movement, he wrote his famous essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. His essay has, therefore, been sanctified by suffering.
Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable. American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his autobiography, he wrote:. Here, in this courageous New Englander's refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery's territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance.
Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau.
As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama , these are outgrowths of Thoreau's insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.
Existentialist Martin Buber wrote, of Civil Disobedience. I read it with the strong feeling that here was something that concerned me directly
- Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Thoreau's essay entitled "Civil Disobedience" i was an excellent way of educating the public on why people should not settle for a less than perfect government.
King view on civil disobedience is more suitable for this day and age that why people would try to fallow his example if they would have to take up civil disobedience. You can also order a custom term paper, research paper, thesis, dissertation or essay on civil disobedience from our custom essay writing service which provides students with .
My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with- for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel- and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. Civil Disobedience Civil disobedience: “Refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other non-violent means” (Houghton, ).
Civil disobedience is defined as the refusal to obey government laws, in an effort to bring upon a change in governmental policy or legislation. Civil disobedience is not an effort to dissolve the American government, because without . Unlike most editing & proofreading services, we edit for everything: grammar, spelling, punctuation, idea flow, sentence structure, & more. Get started now!