Monday, April 27, 2015
John McCaffrie- Henry David Thoreau
Born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, Henry David Thoreau is one of the most famous writers of the 19th century. He attended Harvard, where he studied Greek and Latin. In 18388, after graduating college, he went on to found a school with his brother John, however after John became ill they were forced to close it down. Thoreau then became friends with the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who exposed him to Transcendentalism (the thought that thinking and spirituality were more important than the physical world”. Emerson was like a mentor to Thoreau, and in 1845 Thoreau built a small home on Walden Pond, which was owned by Emerson. Here he tried to live a much simpler life, working less, eating what he himself grew. This is where he wrote what is perhaps his most famous work, “Walden”, and the essay “Civil Disobedience” a.k.a. “Resistance to Civil Government” after he was taken to jail for not paying a poll tax that would fund the Mexican-American War, to which he was opposed. "The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right," he wrote in “Civil Disobedience”. Thoreau was also an outstanding abolitionist, writing essays and rising to defend Capt. John Brown (a radical abolitionist of the time). Later in his life Thoreau contracted tuberculosis, and died in 1862 (fun fact, his last words were “Moose…Indian”). Thoreau, with his radical government, economic and social views is still regarded as one of the better philosophers of the modern era. “Walden” has inspired many to find their way out of the modern rat race.