Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Dover Thrift Editions)

Civil Disobedience Questions

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How does thoreau feel about slavery?

 

clopez#242407
Apr 10, 2012 10:30 AM

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How does thoreau feel about slavery?

give three examples from " On the duty of Civil disobedience"

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jill d #170087
Apr 10, 2012 10:37 AM

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Best Answer: Thoreau proceeds to attack those in his native state of Massachusetts who profess to be against slavery in the South while participating in the commerce and agricultural trade that supports it. The only effective and sincere way to express opposition is through concrete deeds and acts of resistance. Anti-slavery sentiment by itself does not exempt someone from the charge of moral complicity. Thoreau turns to the issue of effecting change through democratic means. Voting for politicians opposed to slavery does not in itself qualify as a moral commitment to the abolition of an unjust practice; it simply registers the will of the people that one policy should prevail over another. The position of the majority, however legitimate in democratic terms, is not tantamount to a moral position. The country is full of men who defer to majority opinion and the shortcomings of a political process that offers a limited number of candidates and choices.

Thoreau uses mechanical metaphors to describe the functioning of government. To conceive of the State as a machine suggests its dehumanizing effects, especially with regard to the treatment of slaves. These metaphors are also part of a larger dichotomy in Thoreau's thinking between nature and artificial social constructs, such as government, corporations or the church. In the following section, Thoreau refers to a "higher law" derived from nature, and uses a metaphor borrowed from the natural world to justify civil disobedience.

Source(s): http://www.gradesaver.com/civil-disobedience/study-guide/section2/

 

jill d #170087
Apr 10, 2012 10:39 AM

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In addition to the war with Mexico, slavery is a chief concern in Thoreau's essay. He extends the logic of his argument about civil disobedience to include any cause that might violate an individual's sense of moral conscience. At the time of publication, the country was deeply divided along regional (and racial) lines over the question of slavery. The New England Anti-Slavery Society had been founded in 1832, and by the 1840s, Boston and the town of Concord where Thoreau lived for most of his life were considered bastions of abolitionist sentiment. Civil Disobedience was first delivered on January 26, 1848 as a lecture at the Concord Lyceum, a center of education for reform-minded thinkers and citizens. While the need for abolition seems morally self-evident by contemporary standards, the issue of slavery in the 1840s and 1850s did not command a unified opinion among many white Americans, even in northern states. Thoreau's essay made it clear that all citizens are morally implicated in the oppression practiced by a government even if indirectly affected by it.

Source(s): http://www.gradesaver.com/civil-disobedience/study-guide/about/

 

Aslan
Apr 10, 2012 10:40 AM

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He really didn't like it He add. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War, "I cannot for an instant recognize as my government [that] which is the slave's government also."

Source(s): Civil Disobedience

 

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