Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays Themes

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Three of the five essays in the collection "Civil Disobedience and other Essays" concern the subject of slavery. Thoreau is an ardent opponent of slavery and a supporter of the anti-slavery movement in Massachusetts.

While slavery is illegal in Massachusetts, it is still legal throughout the South, and at the time of Thoreau's writing the national government is considering whether slavery should be expanded into the newly formed territories of the US. Thoreau is impatient with the political process and calls for more immediate measures.

Thoreau's impatience stems from two sources. First, he argues there is a higher justice that is ignored by politicians and legislators. Slavery is a moral wrong, he claims, which should supersede any consideration based on law. It is pointless to argue whether slavery is "constitutional," he argues, because even the Constitution is subject to this higher moral law.

Second, Thoreau...

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This section contains 1,143 words
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