Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 and died in 1862. His friend and mentor was the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau believed in looking into nature for ultimate truth, and advocated living simply in nature. He is considered one of America’s early environmentalists. At the age of 28 in 1845 Thoreau wanted to write his first book and went to Walden Pond, building his cabin on Emerson’s land. At times he made a living as a pencil maker. He opposed slavery and the U.S. war on Mexico. He wrote On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. This book grew out of an overnight stay in prison for conscientious refusal to pay a poll tax which supported the Mexican War, which Thoreau saw as an effort to extend slavery. He advocated civil disobedience as a means peacefully to protest unjust actions on the part of government. This writing influenced Gandhi, President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Leo Tolstoy. He was largely although not completely a vegetarian, praising vegetarianism as the most noble diet. He died of tuberculosis in 1862 at the age of 44.

I am indebted to the Columbia Encyclopedia, sixth edition, as featured on the site: http://www.bartleby.com/65/th/Thoreau.html for the writing of this biography.

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