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 Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition 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.'"

Read more about Henry David ThoreauEarly Life and Education, Return To Concord: 1836–1842, Civil Disobedience and The Walden Years: 1845–1849, Later Years: 1851–1862, Death, Personal Beliefs, Social and Political Influence, Contemporary Critics, Works

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Life Without Principle - Printed Sources
... My Thoughts are Murder to the State by Henry David Thoreau (ISBN 978-1434804266) The Higher Law Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Reform (ISBN 978-0691118765) Collected Essays and Poems by Henry David Thoreau (ISBN ... Thoreau Wheeler-Minot Farmhouse Excursions (1863) ...
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Famous quotes by henry david thoreau:

    It was always startling to discover so plain a trail of civilized man there. I remember that I was strangely affected, when we were returning, by the sight of a ring-bolt well drilled into a rock, and fastened with lead, at the head of this solitary Ambejijis Lake.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it come to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    These volumes contain not the highest, but a very practicable wisdom, which startles and provokes, rather than informs us. Carlyle does not oblige us to think; we have thought enough for him already, but he compels us to act.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    He is the rich man, and enjoys the fruits of riches, who summer and winter forever can find delight in his own thoughts.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    He should be as vigorous as a sugar maple, with sap enough to maintain his own verdure,... and not like a vine, which being cut in the spring bears no fruit, but bleeds to death in the endeavor to heal its wounds.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)