“Civil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War.
In 1848, Thoreau gave lectures at the Concord Lyceum that he titled “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government.” This formed the basis for his essay, which was first published under the title Resistance to Civil Government in 1849 in a magazine called Aesthetic Papers.
That title was a way of distinguishing Thoreau’s program from that of the “non-resistants” (anarcho-pacifists) who were expressing similar views. “Resistance” also served as part of Thoreau’s metaphor which compared the government to a machine, and said that when the machine was working injustice it was the duty of conscientious citizens to be “a counter friction” — that is, a resistance — “to stop the machine.””
Strether has already uploaded Thoreau’s ‘Walden.’
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