Henry David Thoreau

Author of Walden and 50+ Books

Henry David Thoreau

1856 Quotes

Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau) was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resistant, development critic, philosopher and abolitionist best known to Walden, a reflection on simple living in the natural environment, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history an... d philosophy, where he anticipated the ecology and environmental history methods and findings, two sources of modern environmentalism. Henry David Thoreau was born in Massachusetts in 1817. In 1837, he graduated from Harvard University, briefly taught, then turned to writing and lecturing. As a transcendentalist and Emerson's good friend, Thoreau lived his life of simplicity in his writings. His two-year experience in a hut in Walden, on land owned by Emerson, resulted in the classic, Walden: Life in the Woods (1854). Thoreau refused to pay poll tax during his stay there in protest of slavery and the Mexican war for which he was imprisoned overnight. In the groundbreaking On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849), his activist convictions were expressed. In a diary he noted his disapproval of attempts to convert the Algonquins "from their own superstitions to new ones." In a newspaper he noted dryly that it was appropriate for a church to be the worst building in a village, "because it is the one in which human nature stoops to the lowest and is the lowest.READ MORE

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I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms...

The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.

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