Slavery actions of The United States, more exactly

Slavery and
unjust laws

 

David Thoreau in the
essay “Civil Disobedience” “addresses
you and me: ephemeral human beings who must make their best of their short time
to ask the right questions.”1 This
work is significant because talks about the issues of the individuals in
relation to the power of government.

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“David  has two representative writings : the “Civil Disobedience” first published in
1849 (under a somewhat less impressive title:”Resistance to Civil Government”) and Walden.2

One of the major idea in
this essay is the fact that the government does not respect the will of the
citizens. “Civil disobedience” it is
a “manifesto against the mental inertia of his fellow-citizens”.3 Transcendentalism
is the period when David Thoreau wrote this essay. Introspection and intuition
are the virtues of the state not the reason.

Thoreau wants to show
us that honest justice can win if people show resistance to injustice. What
annoyed the writer was the immoral actions of The United States, more exactly
it was about the Mexican War. The war was not going to bring peace and understanding
was just intended to allow slavery, illegal actions, immorality when it comes
to politics. “Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we
endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded.”4

The author went to jail
at some point in his life and that affected a little bit his perception about
laws. “He thereafter preached the doctrine of civil disobedience, i.e. the
citizen’s moral duty of correcting a narrow-minded government.”5

“Civil
Disobedience” shows that the new days are worst than
the days  when the revolution took place
in the citizen’s life. Thoreau wants to show us that obeying the laws by the
individuals means that the citizens become a partner  to those who do bad things to the city.         While the government tries to repair the
illegal problems people lives are lost. Thoreau explains what was the
consequence when you disobey the rules “I have paid no poll-tax for six years.
I was put into a jail once on this account, fore one night.”6
After that night, Thoreau was not the same because now he sees the world, his
own town with different eyes . He feels like it is a barrier between him and
the people in town. While he stayed in jail he had time to reflect upon mind
and body. The payment was used by the author as a metaphor in order to show us
the fact that not only in his previous writings, but also in those which came
after he kept  his instinct of
disobedience. “His demonstrative refusal to pay the poll tax had to be somehow
acknowledged by an actual sentence to prison. This act was performed by Thoreau
with the commitment of an actor on a stage.”7
People become in his opinion slaves of the law and injustice.

 Thoreau says that nothing can buy our freedom.
“When I came out of prison,-for some interfered, and paid that tax,-I did not
perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed
who went in a youth, and emerged a tottering and gray-headed man; and yet a
change had to my eyes come over the scene,-the town, and State and
country,-greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more
distinctly the state in which I lived.”8

What Thoreau wants  when it comes to laws and government is
individual’s freedom of mind, of choice and of actions. He develops the idea of
individual’s conscience and the belief that any cries  could be solved by peaceful means. “what sort
of emolument can pay us for selling our freedom-which is basically our freedom
of mind? How much money should employers count on to buy a thinker’s
conscience? This will only take us back to the old dilemma of Dr. Faustus…”9

David Thoreau was
considered by many people an anarchist “his writings and his actual life-story
is one of the most vivid particularities of Thoreau’s works.”10

The author no longer
respects the laws created by the government. He does not believe anymore in the
Constitution not even in the State.”In most cases there is no free exercise
whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense.”11

Government in Thoreau’s
opinion is something imaginary an idea that people choose to live by. He
encourages civil disobedience because you develop a sense of moral and
rightness conscience.

Thoreau started his
essay with the idea that the most ideal form of government is one which gives
freedom of mind and abolished slavery. The State is like a machine that in
stand of doing good to society it destroys it, especially when we talk about
slave’s treatment.

The State become a
human being more exactly it turns into a woman. So that is why the State
becomes an object of pity.

In Thoreau’s opinion
the government laws started to be pathetic. The State image used to be
associated with a male image. The only thing that Thoreau thought it affects
citizens liberty was the tyranny of the ones that governs.

            The
State image used to be associated with a male image due to its power, but after
the night he spent in prison, Thoreau comes to the idea that the body can be
locked behind the walls, but not the mind, the conscience. The way in which the
citizens can change the  unjust laws is
to disobey them.

            In
“Civil Disobedience” we can find
Emerson’s influence.  Emerson believes in
intuition. Our intuition to what is right and what is wrong. The best choice
for citizens is to do what they think is right. According to Emerson’s
philosophy, Thoreau believes that a political demand should not be applied if
one considers it wrong. People should be careful about its subjectivity.

            In
the second paragraph of the essay we can see a change in tone. Thoreau feels
disappointed about the American government. The tone that he uses is ironic and
mocking.

“This American government,-what is it
but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired
to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?”12
Thoreau uses a metaphor to emphasis that people actually don’t have the power,
they are powerless, only the government has it. People are not victims they
choose this on their own, they want to be deceived.

            One
of the major ideas that Thoreau wants to show us is that the law can be unjust.
For example, he says that if you consider slavery something bad for people and
for society any government that would allow it must be rejected. We should
believe more in what we recognize as right that what the law says. It is a call
from Thoreau about the subjective notion of justice and individual conscience
against a conformist reality.

Thoreau in his essay
used some techniques in order to keep our attention to what he has to say. One
of them is the use of the first person singular so that the essay seems to
address to all of us. We may tend to consider that Thoreau’s issues are our
issues too.

Another way to involve us
in the text is asking questions. Our attention is to the American system of
government  and how is set up to work.

In Thoreau’s opinion
the best govern is the one that does not govern, that respects the freedom of
citizens.

Starting his essay with
this idea “That government is best which is govern least”13,
Thoreau shows the abuse of the laws and the fact that people can not express
their will, their opinion about their rights in the society. Government
manipulated the laws against what people needed.

The author says that people’s
conscience should guide their actions. He continue to say that heroes are
believed to be those who use their minds to rule the city like politician, not
the real heroes like the soldiers  .
Those who resist to obey what the State says are the real heroes of the
society.

In conclusion, Thoreau
in his essay pleads for freedom, for just men, for truth and for the fact that
people should be aware of what is right and what is wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1  Peiu, Anca,
 Romantic Readings of Selfhood in Classic
American Literature, Bucuresti, Editura C.H.Beck,  2017, pp.88.

2
Ibid.pp.88.

3 Ibid, pp.88.

4   Thoreau, H. David,  On The
Duty Of Civil Disobedience, editura Elegant Ebooks, 1849, PDF ebook created
by Jose Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), pp.12.

5 Peiu, Anca,  Romantic Readings of Selfhood in Classic
American Literature, Bucuresti, Editura C.H.Beck,  2017, 
pp.89.

6  Thoreau, H. David,  On The
Duty Of Civil Disobedience,  Elegant
E-books, 1849, PDF e-book created by Jose Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), pp.18.

7  Peiu ,Anca,
 Romantic Readings of Selfhood in Classic
American Literature, Bucuresti,  C.H.Beck, 
2017, pp.92.

8  Thoreau, H. David,  On The
Duty Of Civil Disobedience,  Elegant
E-books, 1849, PDF e-book created by Jose Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), pp.21.

9   Peiu, Anca,  Romantic Readings of Selfhood in
Classic American Literature, Bucuresti, C.H.Beck,  2017, pp.93.

10 Ibid, pp.89.

11 Thoreau, H. David,  On The
Duty Of Civil Disobedience, editura Elegant Ebooks, 1849, PDF ebook
created by Jose Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), p.5-6.

12 Thoreau, H. David,  On The
Duty Of Civil Disobedience, editura Elegant Ebooks, 1849, PDF ebook
created by Jose Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), p.3.

13 Thoreau, H. David, On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience,  Elegant Ebooks, 1849, PDF ebook created by Jose
Menendez., (https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Thoreau/Civil%20Disobedience.pdf), p.1.