Description Read Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” (1849) and briefly summarize his argument, making sure to answer the following questions. Does he believe that the rule of law is of the utmost importance, or are their laws that should not be obeyed? If so, which laws? Do you agree with his argument, or do you feel that his brand of individualism breeds lawlessness? Does Thoreau believe that individualism breeds lawlessness? How/why? 1 page single spaced. Times new roman https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil…. link to civil disobediance essay^ Below is some notes I have taken from reading the document. Notes -Thoreau writes extensively about the inherent injustices of all governments and speaks of how individuals have a duty to disobey and not respect and unjust law that goes against their conscience. -He believes the government that governs the least is the best and wants it present as fast as possible -Just as much as the government can abuse them they can abuse it oE.g. Mexican war -Believes that the government does more bad than good. Things could go farther than with them. The American character that is inherent has accomplished many things but prevented its progress due to legislation -Believes that if we judged politicians off their policy results rather than their intentions, they would deserve to be classified as criminals -When the power is in the majority when people have power it is because they are physically the strongest -“ The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.” -“They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others- as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders- serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God” -“ I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.” -“ When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves” -“ here 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; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and God-speed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.” -“ . I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of me” – Does he believe that the rule of law is of the utmost importance, or are their laws that should not be obeyed? If so, which laws? -“ think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.” – “Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.” -“ A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart” -“ It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.” -“ Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves- the union between themselves and the State- and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury?” -Refused to pay church tax “ some years ago” -Thoreau lays out the moral groundwork for breaking the law in protest. Some choice quotes which make it pretty clear: oUnjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? oUnder a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison – Do you agree with his argument, or do you feel that his brand of individualism breeds lawlessness? -“ Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.” – In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make what use and get what advantage of her I can, as is usual in such cases. – find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people, to discover a pretext for conformity. -I don’t believe it fosters lawlessness because lawlessness implies absolutely no laws. We are just talking about unjust laws Does Thoreau believe that individualism breeds lawlessness? How/why?
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