Writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. Connected with the Concord-based literary motion called brand-new England Transcendentalism, he embraced the Transcendentalist belief in the universality of creation and also the primacy of an individual insight and experience. Thoreau’s advocacy the simple, principled living continues to be compelling, when his works on the relationship between people and the environment helped specify the nature essay.

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The doctrines the despair, of spirituality or politics tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as mutual the serenity that nature.

Henry David Thoreau. Excursions. (Boston: Ticknor and also Fields, 1863), 39. The evolution of the conservation Movement, 1850-1920. Rare book & unique Collections Division

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. Geo. F. Parlow, c1879. The development of the conservation Movement, 1850-1920. Prints & Photographs Division

After graduating indigenous Harvard in 1837, Thoreau hosted a series of weird jobs. Motivated by Concord neighbor and friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, he started publishing essays, poems, and also reviews in the transcendentalist magazine The Dial. His essay “Natural background of Massachusetts” (1842) revealed his talent because that writing around nature.

From 1845 come 1847, Thoreau lived in a cabin ~ above the edge of Walden Pond, a small glacial lake close to Concord. Guided by the maxim “Simplify, simplify,” he strictly limited his expenditures, his possessions, and also his contact with others. His goal: “To live deliberately, to front only the necessary facts that life, and also see if I might not find out what it had to teach.”

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. In between 1900 and also 1910. Detroit posting Company. Prints & Photographs Division

I wanted to live deep and also suck out all the marrow of life, come live therefore sturdily and also Spartan-like regarding put come rout all that was no life, to cut a wide swath and shave close, to journey life into a corner, and also reduce it come its shortest terms, and, if it showed to it is in mean, why climate to get the whole and also genuine meanness the it, and publish the meanness come the world; or if it to be sublime, to know it by experience, and also be maybe to offer a true account of it…

Henry David Thoreau, “Where i Lived, and also What I live for External,” indigenous Walden; or, Life in the Woods.External. P. 106. Chicago, brand-new York: Scott, Foresman and also Company, 1917 (originally published 1854)

Walden; or, Life in the Woods exterior chronicles his experiment in self-sufficiency. In a series of loosely-connected essays, Thoreau takes American individualism to brand-new heights, while supplying a biting critique of society’s progressively materialistic value system.

During his time in ~ Walden, Thoreau invested a night in jail for refusing to pay his vote tax. The withheld the taxation to protest the visibility of slavery and also what he experienced as one imperialistic war with Mexico. Exit after a loved one paid the tax, he wrote “Civil Disobedience External” (originally published as “Resistance to civil Government”) to define why exclusive conscience deserve to constitute a greater law than civil authority. “Under a federal government which imprisons any unjustly,” he argued, “the true ar for a simply man is also a prison.” Thoreau continued to be a vocal and active opponent of slavery. In enhancement to aiding runaway slaves, in 1859 that staunchly and also publicly safeguarded abolitionist man Brown.

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Racquet River—”Adirondacks”. Brand-new York: published by Currier & Ives, ca. 1840-1880. Famous Graphic Arts. Prints & Photographs Division

When his composing failed to success money or acclaim, he ended up being a surveyor to support himself. As a result, Thoreau’s later years increasingly were invested outdoors, observing and also writing about nature. His seminal essay, “The succession of woodland Trees,” describes the an essential ecology of the woodlands, highlighting the function of birds and also animals in seed dispersal. Republished posthumously in Excursions, Thoreau’s essay renders the forward-looking tip that woodland management equipment mirror present woodland ecology.

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“If a guy does not keep pace through his companions,” thoreau reminds us, “perhaps that is because he hears a various drummer. Allow him action to the music which he hears, yet measured or far away.” thought about something the a failure by the small town merchants and also farmers of Concord, Thoreau passed away at residence on may 6, 1862. His ar in American letters is secure, however, together many continue to find inspiration in his work and his example.


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