Teacher Guide

Civil Disobedience Lesson Plan

Introduction to Civil Disobedience

"Civil Disobedience" is an essay by Henry David Thoreau, published in 1849, and recounts a night Thoreau spent in jail for refusing to pay his poll-tax. In the essay, Thoreau argues for the importance of performing acts of civil disobedience in the face of immoral government actions and laws. His primary concerns are slavery and the Mexican-American war, neither of which he wants to support in any way. Thoreau asserts that the American government, while an "improvement" on older forms of governance, is not perfect and has too much power over citizens. A truly just system of government would be based on respect for the individual and on each individual's commitment to his or her...

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