Please forward this error screen to 209. An essay on slavery and abolitionism must be reviewed before being displayed on this page. The Writings of Henry D. The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government”.
Thoreau was in part responding. This misinterpretation is one reason the essay is sometimes considered to be an argument for pacifism or for exclusively nonviolent resistance. 1848, just months after leaving Walden Pond. Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. The judgment of an individual’s conscience is not necessarily inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so “t is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. Because of this, it is “not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize”.
Political philosophers have counseled caution about revolution because the upheaval of revolution typically causes a lot of expense and suffering. Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them. People who proclaim that the war in Mexico is wrong and that it is wrong to enforce slavery contradict themselves if they fund both things by paying taxes. Thoreau points out that the same people who applaud soldiers for refusing to fight an unjust war are not themselves willing to refuse to fund the government that started the war. In a constitutional republic like the United States, people often think that the proper response to an unjust law is to try to use the political process to change the law, but to obey and respect the law until it is changed.