• What is Thoreau’s basic disagreement with Daniel Webster?
  • What does Thoreau think the role of the New Testament should be? How should lawmakers make use of it when writing laws?
  • Thoreau says that a democracy shows progress to a true respect for the individual, and he imagines a type of government that even surpasses democracy in this respect. What might a government look like that has justice for all and respect for the individual as its central principles?
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    In his essay on civil disobedience, Henry David Thoreau criticizes Webster for being a politician, whose experience is only as part of the government. This makes him both short-sighted and committed to prudence rather than to wisdom. Thoreau is politely grateful for what Webster has done—compared to others: “his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him.” He praises him as the so-called “Defender of the Constitution” but says this defensive position makes him “not a leader, but a follower.”

    The harshest criticisms that Thoreau...

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