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    Civil Disobedience in American History Essay

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    Throughout American history, it is clear that many individuals have fought forjustice in a society that has often denied it.

    We know this information fromdocuments written by these individuals expressing their feelings on a certainsubject. On the subject of human rights, two specific men have expandedtheir thoughts to make a difference. The very popular Dr. Martin Luther KingJr. , whose main philosophy on civil disobedience revolved aroundnonviolence, wrote a Letter From Birmingham Jail to eight clergymeninforming them of the situation in Birmingham, Alabama, in April of 1963.

    Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century individualist, wrote an essay calledCivil Disobedience in which he explained his reasons for not paying taxesto a government that was involved in an unjust war with Mexico. Althoughthese works were written for different causes, the two are similar in someways. Both are similar in how they get the reader to see and feel what thewritter sees and feels. Both men, King and Thoreau, used emotional appeal in their work.

    This was used to gain support from the reader by creating a feeling ofsympathy to be felt by the reader. Dr. Kings most emotional section was hisfeelings on segregation. His feelings were based on how it was to be black living in a segregated environment. This was extremely importantconsidering that he was directing his thoughts to the eight white clergymen. He started a paragraph referring to the impact of segregation as stingingdarts.

    The following sentences gave examples of the segregation and what itput black people through. In one specific sentence, King used the image ofyou having to tell your young, innocent child that she cannot go to theamusement park simply because of the color of her skin. King wrote,. . .

    when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammeringas you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cant go to thepublic amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and seetears welling up in ger little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed tocolored children. . . and see her begin to distort her little personality byunconsciously developing a bitterness to white people.

    . . Most people aremore sensitive toward young children and hate to see their feelings hurt. Children are also a symbol of the future.

    Henry Thoreau also used emotionalappeal in Civil Disobedience. During the time he wrote this piece, slaverywas the biggest issue among Americans. He told about the injustice in havingslavery in a civilized society. He repeatedly referred to slavery whenever hebegan to talk about the governments unjust laws. Many who believed in theabolition of slavery may have sided with Thoreau on some of his feelingsabout the government.

    His thoughts were appealing to many in the North orAbolitionists. In one section of his essay he wrote, When the majority shallat length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they areindifferent to slavery, or because there is little slavery left to be abolished bytheir vote. One very common feature found in both the letter written by Dr. Kingand the essay by Thoreau was that prison played a role in their struggles. Itis logical appeal to the reader to know that these men were real not phony. They truly believed in what they argued for.

    Both of these men wereincarcerated for doing what they believed was right. Dr. King was locked upfor protesting (nonviolently) and Thoreau was put in jail for not paying taxesto the government which he felt was unjust. Martin Luther King Jr. decidedto spend his time in jail writing his letter to the clergymen for support. Thefact that he was prison showed the men that a fellow clergyman did in factneed help in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Henry Thoreau deeply anylized his onenight experience. He gave the feeling of total seclusion from the world whendescribing his jail cell. He spoke of the walls and door being solid stone anda few feet thick. He felt that he was treated as if I were mere flesh andblood and bones, to be locked up. Dr. King and Henry David Thoreau both also referred to the Bible orGod in their writing.

    King compared the injustice of the situation inBirmingham to a similar event in the Bible. He wrote, Just as the eighthcentury prophets left their little villages .

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Civil Disobedience in American History Essay. (2019, Apr 16). Retrieved from

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