Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862),
". . . and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Civil Disobedience, 1849.
notes by paragraphs, ¶.
¶ The meaning of this part or a selected passage.
1 That government that governs best governs least
2 Amer. Government, no! “The character inherent in the American people did that.”
3 as a citizen, I ask for, not no, “but better government.”
4 must a citizen resign his conscience to “legislation?”
5 The mass of men serve, the state…as machines, with their bodies.?
6 the misunderstood role a a person giving of themselves (p. 3)
7 it is a disgrace to associate ones values with the present “slaves” government also.
8 “the right to refuse allegiance to and to resist the government”
9 is all civil duty able to be understood as expediency
10 what is right in the current crisis? “prepared to do justice to the slave & to Mexico
11 “All voting is a sort of gaming, . . .with a slight moral charge.”
12 citizens are reduced to being available for any purposes of the demagogue
14 the role of monetary resistance
15 “Action from principle,--the perception and the performance of right,--changes things”
16 Unjust laws “shall we be content to obey them?”
17 disproportionate penalties that do not fit the crime.
18 if it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. (p. 8)
19 “it is not necessary that he do something wrong.” “Its very Constitution is the evil.”
21 “an abolition of slaves in America.”
22 “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”
23 the wises course of action rendering to god and Caesar, is not sufficient guide
24 government protection to promote domestic tranquility
25 support for the established Church
26 “I have paid no poll-tax fro six years.” P. 11.
27 state has superior power
28 prison, cell mate was a wrongly accused barn burner.
29 bonding with inmates
30 his bed
31 “I was the involuntary spectator.’ “It was a closer view of my own native town.”
32 morning breakfast and sharing or hoarding food.
33 “--for someone interfered and paid the tax—“ Emerson
34 Village customs “the cake of custom” Frederick Jackson Turner (1890)
35 “I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now.” (P.14)
36 “Private feelings interfere with the public good.”
37 one’s actions are not “biased by obstinacy,” or an undue regard for others’ opinions.
38 Responsibilities of a free thinking citizen to his community.
39 “I seek rather—an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land.”
40 unwise rulers or reformers – cannot long hinder an “imagination-free” person
41 “I know that most men think differently from myself.” (p. 16)
42 The purer sources of truth – not the Bible or the Constitution as derivative
43 “No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America.” (p. 17)
44 “The authority of Government… is still an impure one….” (p. 18)
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Stephen Collins Foster and the controversy of his song about the people of the Suwannee River.