Documents: Reform Movements

Henry David Thoreau was a leading transcendentalist and was well-known for his many writings, such as the book titled Walden. In one of his most-famous essays, Civil Disobedience (1849), Thoreau describes his decision no longer to pay taxes as a form of protest against the Mexican War and the institution of slavery. Thoreau was thrown in jail as a consequence, but he continued to argue that sometimes people have to disobey a law when they feel a deep, moral objection to it. This concept of civil disobedience has influenced many generations and movements such as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.