The writings of Henry David Thoreau, born 1817 in Concord Mass. are said to have inspired Martin Luther King Jr. who designed his nonviolent protests after reading Thoreau’s work.
Vietnam War protesters in the 1960’s were influenced by Thoreau’s work called “Civil Disobedience”.
Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy both wrote in their memoirs that Thoreau’s writings had guided them.
Experts call Thoreau the father of the environmental movement. The founder of the environmental group named “Sierra Club”, John Muir was moved by Thoreau’s words.
Yet, we seldom if ever hear mention of his name. I hope kids still learn about him in American History class. Thoreau lived a short life (died at 44 years of age from tuberculosis) but made an impact that ripples through our lives today. He believed that being a good person was more important than being a citizen and there is more to human beings than our bodies. There is human spirit too. Thoreau’s writings about people fighting peacefully against bad laws was called “Civil Disobedience”. Others may know of his book “Walden or Life in the Woods” where Henry described the beauties of nature and in which he urged people to act as individuals, to be independent. He also criticized the importance people place on material things.
Thoreau supported himself by lecturing and surveying the land. For a brief time (3 years) he opened a school with his brother and was a teacher.
As we think about the great contributions our current century leaders possess, we could also think about who might have inspired their greatness.
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Best regards, Michael Caruso