American Resistance to Civil Government, Thoreau, essay
1. What does Thoreau mean when he says that "when men are prepared for it" they will have a
government that governs not at all? He believes that government isn't necessary if everyone just did the right thing. “That government is best that governs least” the opening remarks showcase his feelings about the government he believes that they should be out of his life. he is saying that everyone should do with their own conscience should let them get away with nothing more nothing less and the government can't tell you what the right thing is to do.
2. According to Thoreau, what is the American government? He said that the American government is but a tradition. He says it does not have the force of a single man because a single man can bend to its will. “it does not keep the country free it does not settle the West it does not educate our children” here he is saying that the government is responsible for nothing that we ourselves keep the country free, settle the West and educate our children.
3. What are some problems associated with a society based on majority rule? (Paragraph 3) he says that the majority is not most likely to be right but because they are the strongest not because they are bright. The majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice because it is based on the most amount of people not what is the right thing to do or your conscience.
4. What does Thoreau mean when he writes, “Must the citizen ever...resign his conscience to
the legislator?” (Par. 4) he asked why you even bother to have a conscience if you're going to give it away to a legislator. He believes you should be men first and subjects later. He believes he should be alluded to whatever you want as long as you think it's the right thing to do.
5. What is the difference between “immoral” and “unmoral”? (Par. 5) UNMORAL: Having no moral perception or quality; also : not influenced or guided by moral considerations Lying outside the bounds of morals or ethics. IMMORAL: not moral; broadly : conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles There’s a subtle but a very important difference. An “unmoral” or -more commonly used- “amoral” person does not even think there is a moral. He doesn’t acknowledge it. An “immoral” person doesn’t care for morals. He ignores it completely. The quote in the passage is”after the first blush of sin, comes its indifference and from him or a it becomes, as it were, on the moral, and not white unnecessary to that life which we have made.”
6. Thoreau responds in this essay to some of the burning issues of his day. What are they and
what is his opinion of each? He believes slavery and the war in Mexico is immoral and unmoral. He does not feel the heat should have to pay a poll tax and he even went to jail for it. He is against having a standing army because he believes the standing army is only an arm of the standing government.
7. How does Thoreau feel about his time in jail? What does he learn from his experience? “a change to my eyes had come over the scene” he reflected after he left the prison that things had changed his mind he was more angry than happy that somebody had paid his tax bill for him. “I believe that most of them are not aware that they have such institutions as a jail in their village” he believes most people are oblivious to the fact that jail even exist in town because they don't pay it any attention until they have to actually go there like he did and that they knew it was there and how people were treated then maybe they would look at things different.
8. Create a discussion question or two related to this text.
I wonder if Thoreau had children that went to school or a horse that walked on a road or used any of the government facilities that tax money paid for if he would feel the same way?. I think he just is upon the pay a tax bill and he came up with the excuse against slavery but the real truth is he didn't have the money to pay it so he feels he shouldn't have to pay it and we should somehow respect him for it.
If everybody lived their life according to their conscience what if somebody had no conscience or was simply a horrible person? Maybe Hitler really felt that he was doing the right thing by eradicating 3 million human beings, using Emerson's logic he was well within his rights to do so.