Henry David Thoreau biography

Henry David Thoreau

Philosopher, Author

1817 – 1862


Who was Henry David Thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, sage writer and philosopher. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.Thoreau is sometimes cited as an individualist anarchist as well as an inspiration to anarchists. Though Civil Disobedience calls for improving rather than abolishing government: "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government" the direction of this improvement aims at anarchism: "That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."

Famous Quotes:

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
  • Sobriety, severity, and self-respect are the foundations of all true sociality.
  • I have never found a companion so companionable as solitude.
  • The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
  • We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the filed, but not to describe human character.
  • As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
  • The savage in man is never quite eradicated.
  • City life is millions of people being lonesome together.
  • This American government -- what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will.
  • Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg by the side of which more will be laid.

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Jul 12, 1817
Also known as
  • Henry Thoreau
  • Thoreau
  • Thoreau, Henry David
  • Pantheism
  • United States of America
  • France
  • Harvard University
  • Concord Academy
  • Harvard College
Lived in
  • Concord
    (1845 - 1847)
  • Massachusetts
May 6, 1862

on July 23, 2013


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"Henry David Thoreau." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/henry_david_thoreau>.

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