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"On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau

"On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau

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Published by: sniperister on Sep 21, 2010
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Henry David Thoreau
n the
uty of
The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity university.
This publication of “Henry DavidThoreaus On the Duty of Civil Disobedi-ence’” is part of The Pennsylvania StateUniversity’s ongoingElectronic Classics Series,Jim Manis, faculty editor.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
byHenry David Thoreau
is a publication of thePennsylvania State University. This Portable Document file is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose,and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State Univer-sity nor Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania StateUniversity assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the documentor for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
byHenry David Thoreau
the Pennsylvania StateUniversity, Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, Hazleton, PA 18201-1291 is a Portable Document Fileproduced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classical works ofliterature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.Copyright © 1998 The Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity University.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau
1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Goverment 
I heartily accept the motto, “That government is bestwhich governs least”; and I should like to see it actedupto more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, itfinallyamounts to this, which also I believe—”That gov-ernment isbest which governs not at all”; and whenmen are preparedfor it, that will be the kind of gov-ernment which the will have.Government is at best butan expedient; but most governmentsare usually, andall governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The ob- jections which have been brought against a standingarmy,and they are many and weighty, and deserve toprevail,may also at last be brought against a standinggovernment. The standing army is only an arm of thestanding government. The government itself, which isonly the mode which the people have chosen to ex-ecute their will, is equally liable to be abused and per-verted before the people can act through it. Witnessthe present Mexican war, the work of comparatively afew individuals using the standing government as theirtool; for in the outset, the people would not have con-sented to this measure.This American government—what is it but a tradi-tion, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit it-self unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losingsome of its integrity? It has not the vitality and forceof a single living man; for a single man can bend it tohis will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people them-

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