It shows that he considered spending a night in jail for standing up for his beliefs to be just one of his various activities that week. It wasn’t special or particularly life-changing. He was living at Walden Pond at the time, about a one-mile walk from the downtown part of Concord. He was running an errand in town when Sam Staples stopped him about non-payment of the poll tax. Thoreau went along with what needed to be done; was angry and frustrated when one of his aunts came over from her house across the common in the middle of the night to pay the tax; and was released the next morning to continue his town errands. And that was that. Except, of course, that it wasn’t. When people asked Thoreau why he had allowed himself to be put into jail instead of just paying the bill, he felt the need to write up a lecture about the experience. He delivered it several times in Concord. Eventually he molded it into an essay. He would perhaps be puzzled and surprised today to learn how meaningful and symbolic that single overnight stay in the Middlesex County jail has become to readers and activists in the 20th and 21st centuries.