Sparked by his outrage at the mass slavery in America that ensued with the industrial era, Civil Disobedience is one of the greatest philosophic texts of all time: a call to every citizen to value his conscience above his government.
Within this 19th century essay, Thoreau’s message was that people had a moral duty to avoid blind acquiescence to governmental edicts that in effect made them agents of injustice.
“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest.”
–Martin Luther King
“Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. His essay has therefore, been sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable.”