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Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Other Essays - Essay Example

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Name: Tutor: Course: Date: University: Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Other Essays Abolitionist movement is a reform movement that was widespread in the 18th and 19 Centuries. Most often, it is called anti-slavery movement, since it sought to stop the enslavement of individuals in Europe and in the America…
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Henry David Thoreaus Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
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"Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Other Essays"

Download file to see previous pages This paper will highlight which justification of the two camps was more persuasive to the public as well as the reason why the battle to win the public’s heart was important. Slavery was prominent in America in the 19th Century. In his sixth debate, Lincoln-Douglas said that domestic slavery, a “disturbing” and “dangerous element,” was existing in America (Lincoln-Douglas, Lincoln-Douglas 6th Debate 1858). Abolitionists fought to end slavery. Slaves underwent many hardships, as revealed by Frederick Douglass in his narrative. Such hardships included slaves working in huge plantations and were treated as animals. There were no laws that could protect slavery and the atrocities against them were never talked about. However, the abolitionists’ efforts to end slavery were resisted by the slaveholders, who felt they could be deprived of their rights should they lose the slaves. Slaveholders had a belief that in order for them to prosper economically, they had to keep slaves. Therefore, the continuation of slavery was essential. It was evident that African slaves provided cheap and readily available labor. Furthermore, the slaveholders feared for their own safety should the slaves be freed, since, according to them, the slaves might take over or revenge on their former masters. This triggered the most proactive, bitter and bloody struggle between the antislavery (abolitionists) and the proslavery (slaveholders) in the United States in the mid-19th Century. Abolitionists such as Thoreau made efforts to fight slavery. In his Civil Disobedience and other Essays, Thoreau talks about the necessity to give priority to the conscience of an individual over the demands of the law. He strongly criticizes the institution of slavery. He disputes the assertion that the government gets its power from the majority since this group is the strongest, and not because they have the most legitimate viewpoint (Thoreau 1993, p2). In this regard, Thoreau continues to assert that individuals have the obligation to do what, according to their conscience, is right and not to blindly follow the law that favors the majority. When the government is unjust, people are supposed to refuse the law and distance themselves from such a government (Thoreau 1993, p7). Additionally, people should see to it that they educate themselves on the legitimate law and fight for their rights. This assertion is depicted when slaves began to read and were enlightened about the injustices they were facing (Douglass 2005 p29). The slaves and the abolitionists started fighting to end slavery because people tended to hold dear their own prosperity and liberty. Slavery has been the main threat of people’s liberty and prosperity, and this already worsening condition cannot be improved by enlarging slavery (Lincoln-Douglas, Lincoln-Douglas 7th Debate 1858). Therefore, abolitionists realized there was need for united efforts to improve the status of the black population, which was being abused through slavery. Slaves regretted their own lives and wanted to empower themselves so that they can attain freedom (Douglass 2005 p30). While abolitionists were empowering themselves in order to attain freedom, slaveholders were having sleepless nights. Several slaveholders struggled to oppose the positive efforts that were being administered by the abolitionists. Most slaveholders found ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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