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Civil Disobedience: Historical Perspective. Civil Disobedience: 1849 California Gold Rush: 1849 Huckleberry Finn: 1884 Celia’s Trial: 1855 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: 1862 American Transcendentalism: ~1836-1856 Narrative: Frederick Douglass: 1845 Uncle Tom’s Cabin: 1852.

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Civil Disobedience: Historical Perspective

  • Civil Disobedience: 1849

  • California Gold Rush: 1849

  • Huckleberry Finn: 1884

  • Celia’s Trial: 1855

  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: 1862

  • American Transcendentalism: ~1836-1856

  • Narrative: Frederick Douglass: 1845

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin: 1852


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Connections…

  • What initial connections can you make to materials that we’ve read/discussed thus far?

  • What is significant about these connections?

  • Initial reaction: Do you think Thoreau’s position to be valid…or unrealistic?

  • Do you agree or disagree with Thoreau’s position?


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Key Points…pages 1-6

  • That government is best which governs least…

  • We should be men first, and subjects afterward…

  • I cannot for an instant recognize a government…which is the slave’s government also…

  • After the first blush of sin comes its indifference…

  • Unjust laws exist…

  • A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority…


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More Key Points…

  • The rich man is always sold to the institution that makes him rich…

  • …majority is most likely to be in the right…because the are physically the strongest…

  • For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once done well is done forever…

  • I was not born to be forced…


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Civil Disobedience Study Questions:

1. Is Thoreau’s concept of civil disobedience compatible with democratic government?

2. Is compromise on moral issues a necessary part of living with other people?

3. Thoreau asks somewhat rhetorically, “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?” Why or why not?

4. Which, if any, of Thoreau’s ideas are valuable in the context of political activism?

5. According to Thoreau, why do unjust laws exist?

6. What do you think Thoreau’s message is when he writes, “After the first blush of sin comes indifference?”


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7. Why does Thoreau think that the rich are least likely to practice civil disobedience?

8.. Is Thoreau an optimist or a pessimist? How so?

9. According to Thoreau, why do unjust laws exist?

10. How do you think Thoreau would handle the elephant and mouse metaphor?

11. What do you think Thoreau’s message is when he writes, “After the first blush of sin comes indifference?”

12. Do you think the concepts held by Transcendentalists like Thoreau have validity today?