Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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In Paragraph 1 What Distinction Does Henry

In the first paragraph, what distinction does Thoreau make between the government and the people?

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In the first paragraph, Thoreau refers to the government as a "tool" of the people. It is the means through which the will of the people is done. Although Thoreau does not use this image, we might picture it is as a hammer that the people use, when need be, to drive a nail into the wall.

Because the government is subject to abuse and inefficiency ("inexpediency"), Thoreau advocates for it being as small as possible. He writes "That government is best which governs not at all." He notes, however, that this will only happen when people are prepared for self-governance.

Thoreau points to the war with Mexico as an example of the government being abused or perverted by the interests of a few. That war, he states, was not one the people would have agreed to. Because government so often does not fully reflect the will of the people, Thoreau believes it should stay small.

This accords with Thoreau's transcendentalism, which called on the individual to look into his own heart and conscience and...

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