Who wrote about 2 Years of Solitary Life at Walden Pond?


Henry David Thoreau wrote the book Walden. He lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847, chronicling his experiences there. It was an experiment in living a life unhindered by social trappings and tradition.

More Info:

Walden Pond
Walden Pond is a lake in Concord, Massachusetts in the United States. A famous example of a kettle hole, it was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000–12,000 years ago. The writer, transcendentalist, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau's friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who let Thoreau use it for his experiment. Concord Museum contains the bed, chair, and desk from Thoreau's cabin. Boston's "Ice King", Frederic Tudor, harvested ice yearly on Walden Pond for export to the Caribbean, Europe, and India. In his journal, Thoreau philosophized upon the wintry sight of Tudor's ice harvesters: "The sweltering inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and Calcutta, drink at my well ... The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges." Now managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Walden Pond State Reservation is a popular swimming destination in the summer. At one point there was an amusement park built at the western end of the pond, but it burned down in 1902 and was never rebuilt. In 1961, the Middlesex County Commissioners, then managing the land, proposed leveling a significant portion of the preserve for a parking lot and other "improvements". They had already leveled an acre of woodland for access to the public beach. The Commissioners were sued to stop the destruction of the existing environment. Judge David A. Rose, sitting in the Massachusetts Superior Court, ruled that Walden’s deed donating the property to the Commonwealth required preservation of the land and barred further development. This decision achieved national recognition and Judge Rose received hundreds of letters from school children across the country thanking him for saving the land. In 1977, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts installed a porous pavement parking area at Walden Pond as a special Technology Transfer demonstration project, following methodology generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972. The porous pavement still looks good and works well decades later, despite more freeze-thaw cycling than most other parts of the world. In 1990, Eagles member and solo artist Don Henley initiated The Walden Woods Project to prevent the area around Walden Pond from being developed. Walden Pond inspired the naming of the American film company Walden Media. The pond and reservation are located to the south of state highway MA-2 / MA-2A. Highway MA-126 passes through the reservation. The Fitchburg Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail passes west of the pond; however, the nearest actual station is in Concord center, 1.4 miles northwest of the reservation. Walden Pond, December 2012 Site of Thoreau's cabin, Walden Pond, 2010 Site of Thoreau's cabin, 2010 Thoreau cabin replica, Walden Pond Walden Pond in winter, 2005 Interior of Thoreau cabin replica Thoreau's famous quote, near his cabin site Beach open to public in summer months Verge near trail and site of Thoreau's lost cabin

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state. Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau is sometimes cited as an anarchist, and though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government—"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"—the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: "'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." Richard Drinnon partly blames Thoreau for the ambiguity, noting that Thoreau's "sly satire, his liking for wide margins for his writing, and his fondness for paradox provided ammunition for widely divergent interpretations of 'Civil Disobedience.'" Henry David Thoreau was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts, into the "modest New England family" of John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar. His paternal grandfather was born in Jersey. His maternal grandfather, Asa Dunbar, led Harvard's 1766 student "Butter Rebellion", the first recorded student protest in the Colonies. David Henry was named after a recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau. He did not become "Henry David" until after college, although he never petitioned to make a legal name change. He had two older siblings, Helen and John Jr., and a younger sister, Sophia. Thoreau's birthplace still exists on Virginia Road in Concord. The house has recently been restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust,[2] a nonprofit organization, and is now open to the public for the first time in its history. He studied at Harvard College between 1833 and 1837. He lived in Hollis Hall and took courses in rhetoric, classics, philosophy, mathematics, and science. A legend proposes that Thoreau refused to pay the five-dollar fee for a Harvard diploma. In fact, the master's degree he declined to purchase had no academic merit: Harvard College offered it to graduates "who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by having Five Dollars to give the college." His comment was: "Let every sheep keep its own skin", a reference to the tradition of diplomas being written on sheepskin vellum. The traditional professions open to college graduates—law, the church, business, medicine—failed to interest Thoreau,:25 so in 1835 he took a leave of absence from Harvard, during which he taught school in Canton, Massachusetts. After he graduated in 1837, he joined the faculty of the Concord public school, but resigned after a few weeks rather than administer corporal punishment.:25 He and his brother John then opened a grammar school in Concord in 1838 called Concord Academy.:25 They introduced several progressive concepts, including nature walks and visits to local shops and businesses. The school ended when John became fatally ill from tetanus in 1842 after cutting himself while shaving. He died in his brother Henry's arms. Upon graduation Thoreau returned home to Concord, where he met Ralph Waldo Emerson through a mutual friend. Emerson took a paternal and at times patronizing interest in Thoreau, advising the young man and introducing him to a circle of local writers and thinkers, including Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his son Julian Hawthorne, who was a boy at the time. Emerson urged Thoreau to contribute essays and poems to a quarterly periodical, The Dial, and Emerson lobbied editor Margaret Fuller to publish those writings. Thoreau's first essay published there was Aulus Persius Flaccus, an essay on the playwright of the same name, published in The Dial in July 1840. It consisted of revised passages from his journal, which he had begun keeping at Emerson's suggestion. The first journal entry on October 22, 1837, reads, "'What are you doing now?' he asked. 'Do you keep a journal?' So I make my first entry to-day." Thoreau was a philosopher of nature and its relation to the human condition. In his early years he followed Transcendentalism, a loose and eclectic idealist philosophy advocated by Emerson, Fuller, and Alcott. They held that an ideal spiritual state transcends, or goes beyond, the physical and empirical, and that one achieves that insight via personal intuition rather than religious doctrine. In their view, Nature is the outward sign of inward spirit, expressing the "radical correspondence of visible things and human thoughts," as Emerson wrote in Nature (1836). On April 18, 1841, Thoreau moved into the Emerson house. There, from 1841–1844, he served as the children's tutor, editorial assistant, and repair man/gardener. For a few months in 1843, he moved to the home of William Emerson on Staten Island, and tutored the family sons while seeking contacts among literary men and journalists in the city who might help publish his writings, including his future literary representative Horace Greeley.:68 Thoreau returned to Concord and worked in his family's pencil factory, which he continued to do for most of his adult life. He rediscovered the process to make a good pencil out of inferior graphite by using clay as the binder; this invention improved upon graphite found in New Hampshire and bought in 1821 by relative Charles Dunbar. (The process of mixing graphite and clay, known as the Conté process, was patented by Nicolas-Jacques Conté in 1795). His other source had been Tantiusques, an Indian operated mine in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Later, Thoreau converted the factory to produce plumbago (graphite), which was used to ink typesetting machines. Once back in Concord, Thoreau went through a restless period. In April 1844 he and his friend Edward Hoar accidentally set a fire that consumed 300 acres (1.2 km2) of Walden Woods. He spoke often of finding a farm to buy or lease, which he felt would give him a means to support himself while also providing enough solitude to write his first book.][ Thoreau needed to concentrate and get himself working more on his writing. In March 1845, Ellery Channing told Thoreau, "Go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no other alternative, no other hope for you." Two months later, Thoreau embarked on a two-year experiment in simple living on July 4, 1845, when he moved to a small, self-built house on land owned by Emerson in a second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond. The house was in "a pretty pasture and woodlot" of 14 acres (57,000 m2) that Emerson had bought, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from his family home. On July 24 or July 25, 1846, Thoreau ran into the local tax collector, Sam Staples, who asked him to pay six years of delinquent poll taxes. Thoreau refused because of his opposition to the Mexican-American War and slavery, and he spent a night in jail because of this refusal. (The next day Thoreau was freed when someone, likely his aunt, paid the tax against his wishes.) The experience had a strong impact on Thoreau. In January and February 1848, he delivered lectures on "The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government" explaining his tax resistance at the Concord Lyceum. Bronson Alcott attended the lecture, writing in his journal on January 26: Thoreau revised the lecture into an essay entitled Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience). In May 1849 it was published by Elizabeth Peabody in the Aesthetic Papers. Thoreau had taken up a version of Percy Shelley's principle in the political poem The Mask of Anarchy (1819), that Shelley begins with the powerful images of the unjust forms of authority of his time—and then imagines the stirrings of a radically new form of social action. At Walden Pond, he completed a first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, an elegy to his brother, John, that described their 1839 trip to the White Mountains. Thoreau did not find a publisher for this book and instead printed 1,000 copies at his own expense, though fewer than 300 were sold.:234 Thoreau self-published on the advice of Emerson, using Emerson's own publisher, Munroe, who did little to publicize the book. In August 1846, Thoreau briefly left Walden to make a trip to Mount Katahdin in Maine, a journey later recorded in "Ktaadn," the first part of The Maine Woods. Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, 1847.:244 At Emerson's request, he immediately moved back into the Emerson house to help Lidian manage the household while her husband was on an extended trip to Europe. Over several years, he worked to pay off his debts and also continuously revised his manuscript for what, in 1854, he would publish as Walden, or Life in the Woods, recounting the two years, two months, and two days he had spent at Walden Pond. The book compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of four seasons to symbolize human development. Part memoir and part spiritual quest, Walden at first won few admirers, but later critics have regarded it as a classic American work that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions. American poet Robert Frost wrote of Thoreau, "In one book ... he surpasses everything we have had in America." John Updike wrote in 2004, Thoreau moved out of Emerson's house in July 1848 and stayed at a home on Belknap Street nearby. In 1850, he and his family moved into a home at 255 Main Street; he stayed there until his death. In 1851, Thoreau became increasingly fascinated with natural history and travel/expedition narratives. He read avidly on botany and often wrote observations on this topic into his journal. He admired William Bartram, and Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. He kept detailed observations on Concord's nature lore, recording everything from how the fruit ripened over time to the fluctuating depths of Walden Pond and the days certain birds migrated. The point of this task was to "anticipate" the seasons of nature, in his words. He became a land surveyor and continued to write increasingly detailed natural history observations about the 26 square miles (67 km2) town in his journal, a two-million word document he kept for 24 years. He also kept a series of notebooks, and these observations became the source for Thoreau's late natural history writings, such as Autumnal Tints, The Succession of Trees, and Wild Apples, an essay lamenting the destruction of indigenous and wild apple species. Until the 1970s, literary critics][ dismissed Thoreau's late pursuits as amateur science and philosophy. With the rise of environmental history and ecocriticism, several new readings][ of this matter began to emerge, showing Thoreau to be both a philosopher and an analyst of ecological patterns in fields and woodlots. For instance, his late essay, "The Succession of Forest Trees," shows that he used experimentation and analysis to explain how forests regenerate after fire or human destruction, through dispersal by seed-bearing winds or animals. He traveled to Quebec once, Cape Cod four times, and Maine three times; these landscapes inspired his "excursion" books, A Yankee in Canada, Cape Cod, and The Maine Woods, in which travel itineraries frame his thoughts about geography, history and philosophy. Other travels took him southwest to Philadelphia and New York City in 1854, and west across the Great Lakes region in 1861, visiting Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Mackinac Island. Although provincial in his physical travels, he was extraordinarily well-read and vicariously a world traveler. He obsessively devoured all the first-hand travel accounts available in his day, at a time when the last unmapped regions of the earth were being explored. He read Magellan and James Cook, the arctic explorers Franklin, Mackenzie and Parry, David Livingstone and Richard Francis Burton on Africa, Lewis and Clark; and hundreds of lesser-known works by explorers and literate travelers. Astonishing amounts of global reading fed his endless curiosity about the peoples, cultures, religions and natural history of the world, and left its traces as commentaries in his voluminous journals. He processed everything he read, in the local laboratory of his Concord experience. Among his famous aphorisms is his advice to "live at home like a traveler." After John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, many prominent voices in the abolitionist movement distanced themselves from Brown, or damned him with faint praise. Thoreau was disgusted by this, and he composed a speech—A Plea for Captain John Brown—which was uncompromising in its defense of Brown and his actions. Thoreau's speech proved persuasive: first the abolitionist movement began to accept Brown as a martyr, and by the time of the American Civil War entire armies of the North were literally singing Brown's praises. As a contemporary biographer of John Brown put it: "If, as Alfred Kazin suggests, without John Brown there would have been no Civil War, we would add that without the Concord Transcendentalists, John Brown would have had little cultural impact." Thoreau contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and suffered from it sporadically afterwards. In 1859, following a late night excursion to count the rings of tree stumps during a rain storm, he became ill with bronchitis. His health declined over three years with brief periods of remission, until he eventually became bedridden. Recognizing the terminal nature of his disease, Thoreau spent his last years revising and editing his unpublished works, particularly The Maine Woods and Excursions, and petitioning publishers to print revised editions of A Week and Walden. He also wrote letters and journal entries until he became too weak to continue. His friends were alarmed at his diminished appearance and were fascinated by his tranquil acceptance of death. When his aunt Louisa asked him in his last weeks if he had made his peace with God, Thoreau responded: "I did not know we had ever quarreled." Aware he was dying, Thoreau's last words were "Now comes good sailing", followed by two lone words, "moose" and "Indian". He died on May 6, 1862 at age 44. Bronson Alcott planned the service and read selections from Thoreau's works, and Channing presented a hymn. Emerson wrote the eulogy spoken at his funeral. Originally buried in the Dunbar family plot, he and members of his immediate family were eventually moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (N42° 27' 53.7" W71° 20' 33") in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau's friend Ellery Channing published his first biography, Thoreau the Poet-Naturalist, in 1873, and Channing and another friend Harrison Blake edited some poems, essays, and journal entries for posthumous publication in the 1890s. Thoreau's journals, which he often mined for his published works but which remained largely unpublished at his death, were first published in 1906 and helped to build his modern reputation. A new, expanded edition of the journals is underway, published by Princeton University Press. Today, Thoreau is regarded as one of the foremost American writers, both for the modern clarity of his prose style and the prescience of his views on nature and politics. His memory is honored by the international Thoreau Society and his legacy honored by the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, established in 1998 in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Thoreau was an early advocate of recreational hiking and canoeing, of conserving natural resources on private land, and of preserving wilderness as public land. Thoreau was also one of the first American supporters of Darwin's theory of evolution.][ He was not a strict vegetarian, though he said he preferred that diet and advocated it as a means of self-improvement. He wrote in Walden: "The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness; and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth." Thoreau neither rejected civilization nor fully embraced wilderness. Instead he sought a middle ground, the pastoral realm that integrates both nature and culture. His philosophy required that he be a didactic arbitration between the wilderness he based so much on and the spreading mass of North American humanity. He decried the latter endlessly but felt the teachers need to be close to those who needed to hear what he wanted to tell them. He was in many ways a 'visible saint', a point of contact with the wilds, even if the land he lived on had been given to him by Emerson and was far from cut-off. The wildness he enjoyed was the nearby swamp or forest, and he preferred "partially cultivated country." His idea of being "far in the recesses of the wilderness" of Maine was to "travel the logger's path and the Indian trail," but he also hiked on pristine untouched land. In the essay "Henry David Thoreau, Philosopher" Roderick Nash writes: "Thoreau left Concord in 1846 for the first of three trips to northern Maine. His expectations were high because he hoped to find genuine, primeval America. But contact with real wilderness in Maine affected him far differently than had the idea of wilderness in Concord. Instead of coming out of the woods with a deepened appreciation of the wilds, Thoreau felt a greater respect for civilization and realized the necessity of balance." On alcohol, Thoreau wrote: "I would fain keep sober always... I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor... Of all ebriosity, who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes?" Thoreau's political writings had little impact during his lifetime, as "his contemporaries did not see him as a theorist or as a radical, viewing him instead as a naturalist. They either dismissed or ignored his political essays, including Civil Disobedience. The only two complete books (as opposed to essays) published in his lifetime, Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), both dealt with nature, in which he loved to wander." His obituary was lumped in with others rather than as a separate article in an 1862 yearbook. Nevertheless, Thoreau's writings went on to influence many public figures. Political leaders and reformers like Mohandas Gandhi, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and Russian author Leo Tolstoy all spoke of being strongly affected by Thoreau's work, particularly Civil Disobedience, as did "right-wing theorist Frank Chodorov [who] devoted an entire issue of his monthly, Analysis, to an appreciation of Thoreau." Thoreau also influenced many artists and authors including Edward Abbey, Willa Cather, Marcel Proust, William Butler Yeats, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, E. B. White, Lewis Mumford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Posey and Gustav Stickley. Thoreau also influenced naturalists like John Burroughs, John Muir, E. O. Wilson, Edwin Way Teale, Joseph Wood Krutch, B. F. Skinner, David Brower and Loren Eiseley, whom Publishers Weekly called "the modern Thoreau." English writer Henry Stephens Salt wrote a biography of Thoreau in 1890, which popularized Thoreau's ideas in Britain: George Bernard Shaw, Edward Carpenter and Robert Blatchford were among those who became Thoreau enthusiasts as a result of Salt's advocacy. Mohandas Gandhi first read Walden in 1906 while working as a civil rights activist in Johannesburg, South Africa. He first read Civil Disobedience "while he sat in a South African prison for the crime of nonviolently protesting discrimination against the Indian population in the Transvaal. The essay galvanized Gandhi, who wrote and published a synopsis of Thoreau's argument, calling its 'incisive logic . . . unanswerable' and referring to Thoreau as 'one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced.'" He told American reporter Webb Miller, "[Thoreau's] ideas influenced me greatly. I adopted some of them and recommended the study of Thoreau to all of my friends who were helping me in the cause of Indian Independence. Why I actually took the name of my movement from Thoreau's essay 'On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,' written about 80 years ago." Martin Luther King, Jr. noted in his autobiography that his first encounter with the idea of non-violent resistance was reading "On Civil Disobedience" in 1944 while attending Morehouse College. He wrote in his autobiography that it was 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. American psychologist B. F. Skinner wrote that he carried a copy of Thoreau's Walden with him in his youth. and, in 1945, wrote Walden Two, a fictional utopia about 1,000 members of a community living together inspired by the life of Thoreau. Thoreau and his fellow Transcendentalists from Concord were a major inspiration of the composer Charles Ives. The 4th movement of the Concord Sonata for piano (with a part for flute, Thoreau's instrument) is a character picture and he also set Thoreau's words. In the early 1960s Allen Sherman referred to Thoreau in his song parody "Here's To Crabgrass" about the suburban housing boom of that era with the line "Come let us go there and live like Thoreau there." Thoreau's ideas have impacted and resonated with various strains in the anarchist movement, with Emma Goldman referring to him as "the greatest American anarchist." Green anarchism and Anarcho-primitivism in particular have both derived inspiration and ecological points-of-view from the writings of Thoreau. John Zerzan included Thoreau's text "Excursions" (1863) in his edited compilation of works in the anarcho-primitivist tradition titled Against civilization: Readings and reflections. Additionally, Murray Rothbard, the founder of anarcho-capitalism, has opined that Thoreau was one of the "great intellectual heroes" of his movement. Thoreau was also an important influence on late-19th-century anarchist naturism. Globally, Thoreau's concepts also held importance within individualist anarchist circles in Spain, France, and Portugal. Although his writings would later receive widespread acclaim, Thoreau's ideas were not universally applauded by some of his contemporaries in literary circles. Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's endorsement of living alone and apart from modern society in natural simplicity to be a mark of "unmanly" effeminacy and "womanish solitude", while deeming him a self-indulgent "skulker." Nathaniel Hawthorne was also critical of Thoreau, writing that he "repudiated all regular modes of getting a living, and seems inclined to lead a sort of Indian life among civilized men." In a similar vein, poet John Greenleaf Whittier detested what he deemed to be the "wicked" and "heathenish" message of Walden, decreeing that Thoreau wanted man to "lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs." In response to such criticisms, English novelist George Eliot, writing for the Westminster Review, characterized such critics as uninspired and narrow-minded: People—very wise in their own eyes—who would have every man's life ordered according to a particular pattern, and who are intolerant of every existence the utility of which is not palpable to them, may pooh-pooh Mr. Thoreau and this episode in his history, as unpractical and dreamy. Thoreau himself also responded to the criticism in a paragraph of his work "Walden" (1854), by illustrating the irrelevance of their inquiries: I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained. [...] Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; [...] I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits. Amos Bronson Alcott and Thoreau's aunt each wrote that "Thoreau" is pronounced like the word "thorough" (pronounced ——in General American, but more precisely ——in 19th-century New England). Edward Waldo Emerson confirmed the latter pronunciation, writing that the name should be pronounced "Thó-row", with the h sounded and stress on the first syllable. Another, perhaps more common pronunciation among modern-day American speakers is ——accented on the second syllable. He himself wrote in his Journals that his surname "rhymed with Mrs. Storrow."][ In appearance he was homely, with a nose that he called "my most prominent feature." Of his face, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "[Thoreau] is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty." Thoreau also wore a neckbeard for many years, which he insisted many women found attractive. However, Louisa May Alcott mentioned to Ralph Waldo Emerson that Thoreau's facial hair "will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man's virtue in perpetuity."

Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, it details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development. By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period. As Thoreau made clear in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles (3 km) from his family home. Part memoir and part spiritual quest, Walden opens with the announcement that Thoreau spent two years at Walden Pond living a simple life without support of any kind. Readers are reminded that at the time of publication, Thoreau is back to living among the civilized again. The book is separated into specific chapters that each focus on specific themes: Economy: In this first and longest chapter, Thoreau outlines his project: a two-year, two-month, and two-day stay at a cozy, "tightly shingled and plastered", English-style 10' × 15' cottage in the woods near Walden Pond. He does this, he says, to illustrate the spiritual benefits of a simplified lifestyle. He easily supplies the four necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, and fuel) with the help of family and friends, particularly his mother, his best friend, and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Waldo Emerson. The latter provided Thoreau with a work exchange – he could build a small house and plant a garden if he cleared some land on the woodlot and did other chores while there. Thoreau meticulously records his expenditures and earnings, demonstrating his understanding of "economy", as he builds his house and buys and grows food. For a home and freedom, he spent a mere $28.12½, in 1845 (about $863 in today's money). At the end of this chapter, Thoreau inserts a poem, "The Pretensions of Poverty",][ by seventeenth-century English poet Thomas Carew. The poem criticizes those who think that their poverty gives them unearned moral and intellectual superiority. The chapter is filled with figures of practical advice, facts, big ideas about individualism versus social existence...manifesto of social thought and meditations on domestic management. Much attention is devoted to the skepticism and wonderment with which townspeople greeted both him and his project as he tries to protect his views from those of the townspeople who seem to view society as the only place to live. He recounts the reasons for his move to Walden Pond along with detailed steps back to the construction of his new home (methods, support, etc.). Where I Lived, and What I Lived For: Thoreau recollects thoughts of places he stayed at before selecting Walden Pond. Quotes Roman Philosopher Cato's advice "consider buying a farm very carefully before signing the papers". His possibilities included a nearby Hollowell farm (where the wife unexpectedly decided she wanted to keep the farm. Thoreau takes to the woods dreaming of an existence free of obligations and full of leisure. He announces that he resides far from social relationships that mail represents (post office) and the majority of the chapter focuses on how/his thoughts while constructing and living in his new home. Reading: Thoreau discusses the benefits of classical literature (preferably in the original Greek or Latin), and bemoans the lack of sophistication in Concord, evident in the popularity of unsophisticated literature. He also loved to read books by world travelers. He yearns for a utopian time when each New England village supports "wise men" to educate and thereby ennoble the population. Sounds: Thoreau opens this chapter by warning against relying too much on literature as a means of transcendence. Instead, one should experience life for oneself. Thus, after describing his house's beautiful natural surroundings and his casual housekeeping habits, Thoreau goes on to criticize the train whistle that interrupts his reverie. To him, the railroad symbolizes the destruction of the pastoral way of life. Following is a description of the sounds audible from his cabin: the church bells ringing, carriages rattling and rumbling, cows lowing, whip-poor-wills singing, owls hooting, frogs croaking, and cockerels crowing. Solitude: The chapter focuses on his feeling of solitude and its amazing feeling. He explains how loneliness can occur even amid companions if one's heart is not open to them. Thoreau meditates on his pleasures of escaping society (and the things it entails such as gossip, fights, etc.). He also reflects on his new companion, an old settler who arrives nearby and an old woman with great memory ("memory runs back farther than mythology"). Thoreau repeatedly reflects on the benefits of nature and of his deep communion with it and states that the only "medicine he needs is a draught of morning air". Visitors: Thoreau talks about how he enjoys companionship (despite his love for solitude) and always leaves three chairs ready for visitors. The entire chapter focuses on the coming and going of visitors, and how he has more comers in Walden than he did in the city. He receives visits from those living or working nearby and gives special attention to a French Canadian born woodsman named Alec Thérien. Unlike Thoreau, Thérien cannot read or write and is described as leading an "animal life".][ He compares Thérien to Walden Pond itself. Thoreau then reflects on the women and children who seem to enjoy the pond more than men...and how men are limited because their lives are taken up. The Bean-Field: Reflection on Thoreau's planting and his enjoyment of this new job/hobby. He touches upon the joys of his environment, the sights and sounds of nature, but also on the military sounds nearby. The rest of the chapter focuses on his earnings, his cultivation of crops (and how he spends just under fifteen dollars on his crops) The Village: The chapter focuses on Thoreau's second bath and on his reflections on the journeys he takes several times a week to Concord, where he gathers the latest gossip and meets with townsmen. On one of his journeys into Concord, Thoreau is detained and jailed for his refusal to pay a poll tax to the "state that buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house".][ The Ponds: In autumn, Thoreau discusses the countryside and writes down his observations about the geography of Walden Pond and its neighbors: Flint's Pond (or Sandy Pond), White Pond, and Goose Pond. Although Flint's is the largest, Thoreau's favorites are Walden and White ponds, which he describes as lovelier than diamonds. Baker Farm: While on an afternoon ramble in the woods, Thoreau gets caught in a rainstorm and takes shelter in the dirty, dismal hut of John Field, a penniless but hard-working Irish farmhand, and his wife and children. Thoreau urges Field to live a simple but independent and fulfilling life in the woods, thereby freeing himself of employers and creditors. But the Irishman won't give up his aspirations of luxury and the quest for the American dream. Higher Laws: Thoreau discusses whether hunting wild animals and eating meat is necessary. He concludes that the primitive, carnal sensuality of humans drives them to kill and eat animals, and that a person who transcends this propensity is superior to those who cannot. (Thoreau eats fish and occasionally salt pork and woodchuck.) In addition to vegetarianism, he lauds chastity, work, and teetotalism. He also recognizes that Indians need to hunt and kill moose for survival in "The Maine Woods", and ate moose on a trip to Maine while he was living at Walden. Here is a list of the laws that he mentions: Brute Neighbors: is a simplified version of one of Thoreau's conversations with William Ellery Channing who sometimes accompanied Thoreau on fishing trips when Channing had come up from Concord. The conversation is about a hermit (himself) and a poet (Channing) and how the poet is absorbed in the clouds while the hermit is occupied with the more practical task of getting fish for dinner and how in the end, the poet regrets his failure to catch fish. The chapter also mentions Thoreau's interaction with a mouse that he lives with, the scene in which an ant battles a smaller ant, and his frequent encounters with cats. House-Warming: After picking November berries in the woods, Thoreau adds a chimney, and finally plasters the walls of his sturdy house to stave off the cold of the oncoming winter. He also lays in a good supply of firewood, and expresses affection for wood and fire. Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors: Thoreau relates the stories of people who formerly lived in the vicinity of Walden Pond. Then he talks about a few of the visitors he receives during the winter: a farmer, a woodchopper, and his best friend, the poet Ellery Channing. Winter Animals: Thoreau amuses himself by watching wildlife during the winter. He relates his observations of owls, hares, red squirrels, mice, and various birds as they hunt, sing, and eat the scraps and corn he put out for them. He also describes a fox hunt that passes by. The Pond in Winter: Thoreau describes Walden Pond as it appears during the winter. He claims to have sounded its depths and located an underground outlet. Then he recounts how 100 laborers came to cut great blocks of ice from the pond, the ice to be shipped to the Carolinas. Spring: As spring arrives, Walden and the other ponds melt with stentorian thundering and rumbling. Thoreau enjoys watching the thaw, and grows ecstatic as he witnesses the green rebirth of nature. He watches the geese winging their way north, and a hawk playing by itself in the sky. As nature is reborn, the narrator implies, so is he. He departs Walden on September 6, 1847. Conclusion: This final chapter is more passionate and urgent than its predecessors. In it, he criticizes conformity: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away",][ By doing so, men may find happiness and self-fulfillment. I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.][ Walden emphasizes the importance of solitude, contemplation, and closeness to nature in transcending the "desperate" existence that, he argues, is the lot of most people. The book is not a traditional autobiography, but combines autobiography with a social critique of contemporary Western culture's consumerist and materialist attitudes and its distance from and destruction of nature. That the book is not simply a criticism of society, but also an attempt to engage creatively with the better aspects of contemporary culture, is suggested both by Thoreau's proximity to Concord society and by his admiration for classical literature. There are signs of ambiguity, or an attempt to see an alternative side of something common. Some of the major themes that are present within the text are: •Self Reliance: Thoreau constantly refuses to be in "need" of the companionship of others. Though he realizes its significance and importance, he thinks it unnecessary to always be in search for it. Self-reliance, to him, is economic and social and is a principle that in terms of financial and interpersonal relations is more valuable than anything. To Thoreau, self-reliance can be both spiritual as well as economic. Connection to transcendentalism and to Emerson's essay. •Simplicity: simplicity seems to be Thoreau's model for life. IT is philosophical and necessity to him. Throughout the book, Thoreau constantly seeks to simplify his lifestyle: he patches his clothes rather than buy new ones, he minimizes his consumer activity, and relies on leisure time and on himself for everything. •Progress: In a world where everyone and everything is eager to advance in terms of progress, Thoreau finds it stubborn and skeptical to think that any outward improvement of life can bring inner peace and contentment. •The need for spiritual awakening •Man as part of nature •Nature and its reflection of human emotions •The state as unjust and corrupt There has been much guessing as to why Thoreau went to the pond, E.B White stated on this note, “Henry went forth to battle when he took to the woods, and Walden is the report of a man torn by two powerful and opposing drives—the desire to enjoy the world and the urge to set the world straight.” While Leo Marx noted that Thoreau’s stay at Walden Pond was an experiment based on his teacher, Emerson's "method of nature" and that it was a “report of an experiment in transcendental pastorialism". Likewise others have assumed Thoreau's intentions during his time at Walden Pond was "to conduct an experiment: Could he survive, possibly even thrive, by stripping away all superfluous luxuries, living a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions?" He thought of it as an experiment in "home economics". Although Thoreau went to Walden to escape what he considered, "over-civilization", and in search of the "raw" and "savage delight" of the wilderness, he also spent considerable amounts of his time reading and writing.][ Thoreau spent nearly four times as long on the "Walden" manuscript as he actually spent at the cabin. Upon leaving Walden Pond and at Emerson’s request, Thoreau returned to Emerson’s house and spent the majority of his time paying debts. During those years Thoreau slowly edited and drafted what were originally 18 essays describing his “experiment” in basic living. After eight drafts over the course of ten years, "Walden" was published in 1854 After Walden's publication, Thoreau saw his time at Walden as nothing more than an experiment. He never took seriously "the idea that he could truly isolate himself from others". Without resolution, Thoreau used "his retreat to the woods as a way of framing a reflection on both what ails men and women in their contemporary condition and what might provide relief". Upon its release, Walden enjoyed considerable success but still took five years to sell 2,000 copies. yet despite its slow beginnings, later critics have regarded it as an American classic that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty. The American poet Robert Frost wrote of Thoreau, "In one book ... he surpasses everything we have had in America". Critics were generally split over Thoreau's "Walden". Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau’s endorsement of living alone in natural simplicity, apart from modern society, to be a mark of effeminacy, calling it "womanish solicitude; for there is something unmanly, something almost dastardly" about the lifestyle. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier criticized what he perceived as the message in Walden that man should lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs. He said: "Thoreau's Walden is a capital reading, but very wicked and heathenish... After all, for me, I prefer walking on two legs". Today, Walden stands as one of America's most celebrated works of literature. John Updike wrote of Walden, "A century and a half after its publication, "Walden" has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible" Some][ have referred to his works as a modern day escape from the grasps of technology while others][ have cited it as a look at what life "should actually be like".][ The book has been praised by many, including the American psychologist B. F. Skinner who wrote that he carried a copy of Walden with him in his youth, and eventually wrote Walden Two in 1945, a fictional utopia about 1,000 members, who inspired by the life of Thoreau, live together in a community. Regardless, the text remains as both a tool for escape and as a reference for a better life.][ The passage from the book "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" is a keypoint in the 1955 film All That Heaven Allows, directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. In the 1989 film Dead Poets Society, the character of Neil reads an abridged and slightly amended passage from Walden while the boys are in their hiding place in the woods: "I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life... to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived".][ Passages from the book are read in Shane Carruth's 2013 film Upstream Color. The National Endowment for the Arts in 2012 bestowed the University of Southern California with a $40,000 grant to create, based on the book, an online video game in which players "will inhabit an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods".

Concord Museum
The Concord Museum is a museum of local history located at 200 Lexington Road, Concord, Massachusetts, USA, and best known for its collection of artifacts from authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It is open daily except major holidays; an admission fee is charged. Founded in 1886, the museum's collections started around 1850. Few collections of early Americana are as old or well documented. Its most notable items and collections include: The museum's collection of 17th, 18th, and 19th-century decorative arts includes furniture, clocks, looking glasses, textiles, ceramics, and metalware. Most displayed objects are arranged in the following period settings: Other museum collections include Native American stone tools, Puritan household goods, lyceum and cattle show posters, clocks and other machinery manufactured in Concord, and works by sculptor Daniel Chester French.

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is a book by Henry David Thoreau, first published in 1849. The book is ostensibly the narrative of a boat trip from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire and back Thoreau had taken with his brother John in 1839. As John had died from tetanus in 1842, Thoreau wrote the book as a tribute to his memory. The book's first draft was completed while Thoreau was living at Walden Pond. Upon completing the book, Thoreau was unable to find a publisher willing to publish it, and so had it published at his own expense. Few copies of the book sold, and Thoreau was left with several hundred extra copies, and put into debt. A slightly revised version of the book, based on corrections Thoreau had made himself, was published in 1868, six years after his death. While the book may appear to be a travel journal, broken up into chapters for each day, the book is rarely about that topic, as the actual trip took two weeks. While given passages are a literal description of the journey from Concord, Massachusetts, down the Concord River to the Middlesex Canal, to the Merrimack River, up to Concord, New Hampshire, and back, much of the text is in the form of digressions by the Harvard-educated author on diverse topics such as religion, poetry, and history. Thoreau relates these topics back to his own life experiences, often framed by the rapid changes taking place in his native New England during the Industrial Revolution, often changes that Thoreau laments.

Walden Two
Walden Two is a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. In its time, it could have been considered to be science fiction, since science-based methods for altering people's behavior did not yet exist. Such methods are now known as applied behavior analysis. Walden Two is controversial because it includes a rejection of free will and a rejection of the proposition that human behavior is controlled by a non-corporeal entity, such as a spirit or a soul. Walden Two embraces the proposition that the behavior of organisms, including humans, is determined by genetic and environmental variables, and that systematically altering environmental variables can generate a sociocultural system that very closely approximates utopia. Walden Two describes "an experimental community called Walden Two". The community is located in a rural area and "has nearly a thousand members". The community encourages its members "to view every habit and custom with an eye to possible improvement" and to have "a constantly experimental attitude toward everything". The culture of Walden Two can be changed if experimental evidence favors proposed changes. The community emulates the simple living and self-sufficiency that Henry David Thoreau practiced at Walden Pond. Mr. T. E. Frazier and five other people constitute the governing body of Walden Two. These leaders live as modestly as the other members of the community; ostentatious displays of wealth and status are not compatible with Walden Two's egalitarian culture. The community members are happy, productive, and creative; happiness derives from the promotion of rich social relationships and family life, free affection, the creation of art, music, and literature, opportunity for games of chess and tennis, and ample rest, food, and sleep. The community is self-governed; the members subscribe to the Walden Code of self-control techniques, which allow maintaining a happy, productive life in Walden Two with minimal strain. Self-governance, however, is supplemented with community counselors who supervise behaviour and are available to help the members with their problems in following the Walden Code. Walden Two has a constitution that "can be changed by a unanimous vote of the Planners and a two-thirds vote of the Managers". The constitution provides for a "Board of Planners", which is Walden Two's "only government". "Board of Planners" is a name that "goes back to the days when Walden Two existed only on paper". "There are six Planners, usually three men and three women". "The Planners are charged with the success of the community. They make policies, review the work of the Managers, keep an eye on the state of the nation in general. They also have certain judicial functions." A Planner "may serve for ten years, but no longer." A vacancy on the Board of Planners is filled by the Board "from a pair of names supplied by the Managers". Managers are "specialists in charge of the divisions and services of Walden Two". A member of the community can "work up to be a Manager--through intermediate positions which carry a good deal of responsibility and provide the necessary apprenticeship". The Managers are not elected by the members of Walden Two. The method of selecting Managers is not specified; however, since the Board of Planners is Walden Two's "only government", it is reasonable to suppose that Managers are appointed by the Board of Planners. Walden Two has Planners, Managers, Workers, and Scientists. The Scientists conduct experiments "in plant and animal breeding, the control of infant behavior, educational processes of several sorts, and the use of some of our [Walden Two's] raw materials". The method of selecting Scientists is not specified but it is again reasonable to suppose that Scientists are appointed by the Board of Planners. Walden Two's title is a reference to Henry David Thoreau's book Walden. In the novel, the Walden Community is mentioned as having the benefits of living in a place like Thoreau's Walden, but "with company". It is, as the book says, 'Walden for two' - meaning a community and not a place of solitude. Originally, Skinner indicated that he wanted to title it The Sun is but a Morning Star, a quote of the last sentence of Thoreau's Walden, but the publishers suggested the current title as an alternative. In theory and in practice, Thoreau's Walden experiment and the Walden Two experiment were far different from one another. For instance, Thoreau's Walden espouses the virtues of self-reliance at the individual level, while Walden Two espouses (1) the virtues of self-reliance at the community level, and (2) Skinner's underlying premise that free will of the individual is weak compared to how environmental conditions shape behavior. The cover of Walden Two, shown above, includes an "O" filled with yellow ink, with yellow lines radiating from the center of the "O". That Sun-like "O" is an allusion to the proposition that "The sun is but a morning star".][ Skinner published a follow-up to Walden Two in an essay titled News From Nowhere, 1984. It details the discovery of Eric Blair in the community who seeks out and meets Burris, confessing his true identity as George Orwell. Blair seeks out Frazier as the 'leader' and the two have discussions which comprise the essay. Blair was impressed by Walden Two's "lack of any institutionalized government, religion, or economic system", a state of affairs that embodied "the dream of nineteenth-century anarchism". Many efforts to create a Walden Two in real life are detailed in Hilke Kuhlmann's Living Walden Two and in Daniel W. Bjork's B.F. Skinner. Some of these efforts include: Twin Oaks is detailed in Kat Kinkade's book, A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community. Originally started as a Walden Two community, it has since rejected its Walden Two position, however it still uses its modified Planner-Manager system as well as a system of labor credits based on the book. Los Horcones does not use the Planner-Manager governance system described in Walden Two. They refer to their governance system as a "personocracy". This system has been "developed through ongoing experimentation". In contrast to Twin Oaks, Los Horcones "has remained strongly committed to an experimental science of human behavior and has described itself as the only true Walden Two community in existence." In 1989, B. F. Skinner said that Los Horcones "comes closest to the idea of the 'engineered utopia' that he put forth in Walden Two". Skinner wrote about cultural engineering in at least two books, devoting a chapter to it in both Science and Human Behavior and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. In Science and Human Behavior a chapter is titled "Designing a Culture" and expands on this position as well as in other documents. In Beyond Freedom and Dignity there are many indirect references to Walden Two when describing other cultural designs. Hilke Kuhlmann's Living Walden Two possesses many subtle and not-so-subtle criticisms of the original Walden Two which are related to the actual efforts that arose from the novel. One criticism is that many of the founders of real-life Walden Twos identified with, or wanted to emulate, Frazier, the uncharismatic and implicitly despotic founder of the community. In a critique of Walden Two, Harvey L. Gamble, Jr. asserted that Skinner's "fundamental thesis is that individual traits are shaped from above, by social forces that create the environment", and that Skinner's goal "is to create a frictionless society where individuals are properly socialized to function with others as a unit", and to thus "make the community [Walden Two] into a perfectly efficient anthill". Gamble writes, "We find at the end of Walden Two that Frazier [a founding member of Walden Two]... has sole control over the political system and its policies. It is he who regulates food, work, education, and sleep, and who sets the moral and economic agenda." However, contrary to Gamble's critique, it should be noted that neither Frazier nor any other person has the sole power to amend the constitution of Walden Two. See the "Community governance" section, above.

Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they 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 entitled "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 an anthology called Æsthetic Papers. The latter title distinguished 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 comparing the government to a machine: when the machine was producing injustice, it was the duty of conscientious citizens to be "a counter friction" (i.e., a resistance) "to stop the machine." In 1866, four years after Thoreau's death, the essay was reprinted in a collection of Thoreau's work (A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers) under the title Civil Disobedience. Today, the essay also appears under the title On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, perhaps to contrast it with William Paley's Of the Duty of Civil Obedience to which Thoreau was in part responding. For instance, the 1960 New American Library Signet Classics edition of Walden included a version with this title. On Civil Disobedience is another common title. The word civil has several definitions. The one that is intended in this case is "relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state", and so civil disobedience means "disobedience to the state". Sometimes people assume that civil in this case means "observing accepted social forms; polite" which would make civil disobedience something like polite, orderly disobedience. Although this is an acceptable dictionary definition of the word civil, it is not what is intended here. This misinterpretation is one reason the essay is sometimes considered to be an argument for pacifism or for exclusively nonviolent resistance. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi used this interpretation to suggest an equivalence between Thoreau's civil disobedience and his own satyagraha. The slavery crisis inflamed New England in the 1840s and 1850s. The environment became especially tense after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. A lifelong abolitionist, Thoreau delivered an impassioned speech which would later become Civil Disobedience in 1848, just months after leaving Walden Pond. The speech dealt with slavery, but at the same time excoriated American imperialism, particularly the Mexican–American War. Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice. The judgment of an individual's conscience is not necessarily inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so "[i]t 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." He adds, "I cannot for an instant recognize as my government [that] which is the slave's government also." 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. Thoreau contends that such a cost/benefit analysis is inappropriate when the government is actively facilitating an injustice as extreme as slavery. Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. "This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people." 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." (See also: 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. Because the government will retaliate, Thoreau says he prefers living simply because he therefore has less to lose. "I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts…. 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. "I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually." 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.S. government, with all its faults, was not the worst and even had some admirable qualities. But he felt we could and should insist on better. "The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.… 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 sometimes attributed to either Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, "That government is best which governs least...", was actually found in Thoreau's Civil Disobedience. Thoreau was paraphrasing the motto of The United States Magazine and Democratic Review: "The best government is that which governs least." Thoreau expanded it significantly: Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi (a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi) was impressed by Thoreau's arguments. In 1907, 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." He later concluded: American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also influenced by this essay. In his autobiography, he wrote: During my student days I read Henry David Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience for the first time. 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.… It was the concrete, the personal element, the "here and now" of this work that won me over. Thoreau did not put forth a general proposition as such; he described and established his attitude in a specific historical-biographic situation. He addressed his reader within the very sphere of this situation common to both of them in such a way that the reader not only discovered why Thoreau acted as he did at that time but also that the reader– assuming him of course to be honest and dispassionate– would have to act in just such a way whenever the proper occasion arose, provided he was seriously engaged in fulfilling his existence as a human person. The question here is not just about one of the numerous individual cases in the struggle between a truth powerless to act and a power that has become the enemy of truth. It is really a question of the absolutely concrete demonstration of the point at which this struggle at any moment becomes man's duty as man.… Author Leo Tolstoy has cited Civil Disobedience as having a strong impact on his non-violence methodology. Others who are said to have been influenced by Civil Disobedience include: President John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and various writers such as, Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, and William Butler Yeats.
Henry David Thoreau Walden Henry David Thoreau Concord, Massachusetts Ralph Waldo Emerson United States Pond Walden Two A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers Entertainment Culture Literature Massachusetts Civil disobedience Entertainment Culture

Related Websites:

Terms of service | About