Civil Disobedience

In the first paragraph, what distinction does Thoreau make between the government and the people? Why does he begin the essay that way?

Why does Thoreau not start his essay with his stay in jail?

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The opening paragraph expresses Thoreau's seemingly libertarian political sentiments; the idea that the most ideal form of government is one which exercises the least power and control over its citizens. Thoreau pushes this line of thinking to its logical limit by envisioning a society in which government is eliminated altogether because men have the capacity to be self-regulating and independent. The implied dissolution of the State is as much an expression of Thoreau's idealism (a utopic vision that cannot be realistically achieved) as it is the theoretical endpoint of the way societies develop and evolve.