Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

The Duty of Civil Disobedience

Thoreau, Henry David

Henry David Thoreau

(The New England essayist, 1817–1862, author of “Walden,” went to prison because he refused to pay taxes to a government which returned fugitive slaves to the South. It is narrated that Emerson came to him and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in here?” “Waldo,” was the answer, “what are you doing out of here?”)

WHAT is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote and a feeble countenance and God-speed, to the right, as it goes by them.