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The Political Principles of Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was, in many ways, ahead of his time in his political beliefs. During his brief life, he lectured occasionally and struggled to get his writings published. Gaining very little recognition during his lifetime, his death in 1862 went virtually unnoticed, and his true genius as a social philosopher and writer was not fully recognized until the twentieth century. Ironically, “Civil Disobedience,” the anti-war, anti-slavery essay for which he is probably best known, has become a manual for social protest by giving support to the passive resistance of Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other conscientious objectors (Paul 233).
Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” was mainly a protest against slavery: “I cannot for an instant recognize the political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also” (854). On a deeper level, the essay was a general protest against any form of political injustice and an affirmation of the obligation of passive resistance, encouraging individuals…
 
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