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Which of the three appeals dominates in paragraph 21, where Thoreau gives the...

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wassupshawtyy | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2012 at 2:16 PM via web

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Which of the three appeals dominates in paragraph 21, where Thoreau gives the government a human face.

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 26, 2012 at 4:15 PM (Answer #1)

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In his essay Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau appeals to the logic of his audience as he argues that since laws are man-made, they are not infallible; further, he contends that there is a higher divine law.  When civil laws and divine laws conflict, people must obey the higher law. Thoreau's logos-based argument appeals to the reason of his readers.  He asks of the State tax collector, whom he meets each year to recognize him as expressing his dissatisfaction with the poll tax.

Thoreau reasons that he must contend with this man, the tax collector

—for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel,—and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government.

Further, Thoreau appeals to the logic of his listerners that they will take action against the unfair law and convey their disapproval of slavery as well. He deduces logically,

I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name,—if ten honest men only,—aye, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefore, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done for ever.

As in most scholarly documents, Thoreau's essay is logos-driven as he seeks to reason with his readers that they should protest the poll tax that support slaver.

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