Civil Disobedience

Outraged that the United States allows slavery and has attacked Mexico to seize territory, writer Henry David Thoreau stops paying taxes. He's taken to jail. "Civil Disobedience" is his response to arrest—a groundbreaking essay encouraging centuries of reformers to fight for change.
A Better way
Society's Solution
Society's Problem
An ideal society would be led by conscience and respectful of individual rights.
Thoreau suggests breaking unjust laws in peaceful protest.
Citizens passively condone and support violent government practices.
Civil Disobedience
The governing body enforces its laws through violence and abuse of human rights because its citizens do not actively challenge injustice.
State Abuse of Power
Citizens have the power to choose between obeying unjust laws and following an inner moral compass.
Law vs. Conscience
True patriots stand up for everyone's rights, act according to their conscience, and accept responsibility for their actions.
Citizen's Duty
Main Ideas
Thoreau's work influenced the tactics employed by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin
Luther King, Jr
Thoreau's imprisonment lasted only one night.
Inspiration for Activists
One Night in Jail
Thoreau's town, Concord, was a hub of antislavery activism.
Zr-et your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
Reform in Massachusetts
Nature-loving Thoreau devoted himself to philosophy and to the abolition of slavery. He had few possessions, living off the land for two years at Walden Pond. His political writing denounced government violence and—in the case of "Civil Disobedience"—encouraged individual activism.