To begin, Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading Transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a meditation on simple living in a natural environment, and his essay “Civil Disobedience.”
One of the finest writers in American history
In addition, Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry includes more than 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, in which he anticipated the methods and insights of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern environmentalism. His literary style intertwines close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical tradition, displaying poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and an eye for practical detail. Henry was 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 the true basic needs of life
In addition, Thoreau was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures attacking 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 prominent figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Thoreau is sometimes referred to as an anarchist.
Thoreau’s Civil disobedience
Meanwhile, in “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau wrote, “I heartily embrace the motto—’That government is best that governs least;’ and I’d like to see it work faster and more systematically. Done, it means this in the end, which I also believe: ‘That government is best that does not govern at all;’ and when men are ready for it, it will be such a government as they will have, but practically, and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves ungovernable men, I ask, not at once no government, but at once a better government.