The fourth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace brings us to Henry David Thoreau‘s seminal 1849 essay on Civil Disobedience. This is the essay that turned words into action. It turned the future into right now. This essay educated two of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century, Gandhi and King. It provided the foundations for their nonviolent movements.
Like many of his fellow transcendentalists, Thoreau was an abolitionist. He reacted strongly to President Polk’s incitement of the Mexican War in 1846. The war was intended to annex territory for slavery. Congressman Abraham Lincoln’s outspoken opposition to the war essentially ended his political career for 8 years.
Thoreau took it a step further. He saw that living in a the the free state of Massachusetts and speaking out against slavery did not absolve him of involvement in the war, and in furthering slavery. Thoreau saw that his support of the government — his payment of taxes — made him complicit. Despite having coined the phrase in the beginning of this essay that teeters between libertarian and anarchist: Continue reading Power of Nonviolence Thoreau CD: Peace Book Chapter 4 10/10/11