Thoreau on School Segregation

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Thoreau on School Segregation Henry David Thoreau is known as one of history’s greatest critics of American government. Thoreau argues that a government should be run by the group with the most legitimate viewpoint, not the group with the most power. In 1849, he wrote Civil Disobedience in which he urges his readers to use their conscience to determine if a government is acting within its bounds or if it is committing injustice. Thoreau argues that a citizen must do what is right and not simply comply with the law’s demands. He cites the existence of unjust laws and declares that we as citizens should not be obligated to follow them. The basis for this argument is that the government is run by a majority with the most power, not the most valid perspective. This is the reason why Thoreau advises citizens to follow what they believe to be right and not embrace what the government says. Thoreau states that is not a man’s duty to pledge to eradicate all wrongs from his country but that it is one’s duty to “wash his hands” of it and to not support the wrong in anyway (page 183 para13). He continues to tell a story of how he used this method to protest the Mexican American War which was being waged at the time the essay was written. The war was being fought over a territory which would soon be named Texas and then declared a slave state once the United States gained control. Thoreau opposed war, and also slavery. His opposition to war was due to the fact that it causes a country to use men as pieces in its machine which prohibits them from free thinking. He opposed slavery because of its unjust oppression of men and women. Slavery is an example of a popular idea that is not the most thought out or effective; the types of ideas that Thoreau warns against. Thoreau’s form of action to demonstrate his disapproval of the war, and slavery as well was a refusal to pay a
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