Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience book cover
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Why did Henry David Thoreau write Civil Disobedience?

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Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience to justify not paying his taxes, for which he was put in jail. He refused to pay his taxes to protest two injustices he believed were perpetrated by the United States government: slavery and the war against Mexico.

Thoreau was a fervent abolitionist and came to believe that merely voting against or protesting slavery or against an unjust war that was likely to expand slavery was not an effective way to promote change. He felt he needed to take a firm stand and not support injustice with his tax dollars.

In his essay, he argues that moral law and conscience are higher than the laws the state passes, because governments can and do pass immoral laws. His essay is an attempt to persuade people to stand up against the government, even at personal cost, rather than accepting injustice.

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