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Martin Luther King and Henry DavidThoreau Essay

However with different motives; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau were both admirable men that strived for a better government. As respected spokesmen they served as rebels against what they thought to be bad one’s stopping at nothing. Not even jail.

Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. were both brilliant men. Thoreau’s “Civil Obedience” and Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are perfect examples of their intellect. Looking at these documents and observing the tactics they use while attempting to move their audience toward their ultimate goal, one can see the finesse that both men possessed.

Thoreau and Dr. King lived during two different centuries. So being that they were vocalist and activist on the current issues it’s almost certain that they would have a different motive. Even though their motive was ‘poles apart’, differing in many ways, both Thoreau and Dr. King wrote with the aspiration of obtaining a new form of government presumably resembling the republican one we exercise today. Although awfully controversial, to do so both men felt nonverbal actions such as breaking the laws was the only effective way. In spite of the fact that it’s relatively ironic, they viewed going to jail in order to make a mockery of an immoral or impractical laws put in place by the government was “the very highest respect for law (King para. 5).”Henry David Thoreau motive for rebelling against the government was to make it more of a democratic one.

He had no respect for the way it was being ran. His proclaimed problem basically summed up to be that he felt the government was being ran like a monarchy, or in other words by a selective few and not an entire society as it should. It simply wasn’t up to par according to his standards; for he stated this “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government (para. 4).”Unlike Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an African American during the times of segregation. This alone is a critical manipulating variable in the equation of why the two’s motive wasn’t the same. Dr. King was all about helping America move towards a desegregated future. He had zeal towards annihilating all unjust laws which he stated to be “a code inflicted upon a minority which that minority had no part in enacting or creating… (para. 4),” but for the most part he had an overall respect for the government.

In conclusion, it’s safe to say that other than race and motive Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. were pretty similar. They both were men of their own opinion that could be classified as moralized radicals. As spokesmen of their time they were both good at what they did. Through the form of speeches, protest, letters, and etcetera they both exemplified “Civil Disobedience (Thoreau).

“Thoreau, Henry D. Civil Disobedience. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1849. 263-287.

King Jr., Dr. Martin L. “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.” 16 Apr.-May 1963. Birmingham: Charles Moore, 1963. 1.

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