Henry David Thoreau:Life and Legacy

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord Massachusetts. He died on May 6, 1862. As Thoreau grew up, he believed that life should be lived with only the simplest of things. He started writing poetry on nature with his fellow friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Henry David Thoreau was not only a poet, but a dedicated abolitionist, transcendentalist, philosopher, and author who made a large impact.


Henry David Thoreau believed that all of the changes in the city and the growth of industries everywhere was ruining the world. He believed that everyone should live the simplest life that they could and live near forests/ any nature. He was influenced heavily by Ralph Waldo Emerson. So, after his failure in teaching, he meet Emerson, who helped him with his writings about nature. In 1845, Thoreau decided to build a log cabin near Walden's Pond and live there to prove that you can live life with only the simplicities of life. He started writing Walden there (his best-selling book).
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While living with Emerson, Thoreau got into transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is the belief that every man and woman should be treated with equal rights and a thought that that emphasized the importance of thoughts in the physical world. While staying at Walden's Pond, he kept a journal, The Dial where he would record his thoughts about this matter.
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Thoreau believed that every man and women should have rights and be treated equally without being criticized. He was asked to pay taxes to help support the Mexican War but flat out refused, since he believed that it supported slavery. For that, he had to spend a night in jail but he was completely fine with that. He stated that "I would rather be seen going to jail than be seen following these unjust laws." While he was in jail, he got the idea to write Civil Disobedience. Once he got out, he started to write Civil Disobedience and other speeches about anti-slavery

Lasting Impact

Thoreau left a major impact. His famous book, Walden is still used in colleges and English majors are required to read it. His speeches, writings and Civil Disobedience are now world famous. Henry infleuenced Martin Luther King Jr. to give his "I have a Dream Speech". He influenced Mahathma Gandhi to start protesting for Indian's independance. Imagine life had MLK Jr. not given his speech. Yah, blacks whites, and indians still would be segregated. That life would've been horrible. So thank Hnery David Thoreau for not letting us have that type of life.