Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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In paragraph 36 of "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau distinguishes among different types of taxes. Why?

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Thoreau differentiates among different types of taxes because he feels differently about them based on their purposes. He says that he pays the highway tax "because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject." He cares about people, not governments. Further, he takes no issue with paying taxes to support schools, and so he says that he currently pays this tax. So far, he believes in the maintenance of the two things these taxes pay: roads and schools. However, when he comes to the tax-bill, he says that he "simply wish[es] to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually." Thoreau does take issue with government and the too-large, in his view, role that it plays in American life. He believes that the government is "inexpedient" and "liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it." For these reasons, Thoreau finds no value in voting, and so why should he pay the tax that would enable him to vote? He...

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