The prevailing view is that because the president won the majority those that were against him should now fall silent. It should it was often said be the duty of a good citizen to fold away their objections and just respect the will of the majority. But this is the point Thoreau believed that true patriots were not those that blindly followed their administration they were those that followed their own consciences and in particular the principles of reason. He wished to redistribute prestige away from blanketed obedience towards independent thought. What makes a real American, Thoreau thought was not that they respectfully shut up but that they thought for themselves everyday of an administrations life. All machines have their friction but when injustice is too great you should let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.  There are thousands who are in opinion opposed who yet in affect do nothing to put an end to them. The citizen must never just resign his conscious to the legislation and put himself at the service of some unscrupulous man in power.

“Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage….

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation? Why has every man a conscience, then?

I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right

How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was.

Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform?

Why does it not cherish its wise minority?

Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt?

Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.”

Civil Disobedience

By Henry David Thoreau

1849

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