Civil Disobedience & Resistance Quotations


It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.—"Civil Disobedience"
It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him. — "Civil Disobedience"—"Civil Disobedience"
It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.—"Resistance to Civil Government"
Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone.—Journal, 4 December 1860
The rich man . . . is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. — "Resistance to Civil Government"—"Resistance to Civil Government"
The scholar requires hard labor as an impetus to his pen. He will learn to grasp it as firmly and wield it as gracefully and effectually as an axe or a sword. — Journal, 5 January 1842—Journal, 5 January 1842
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.—"Resistance to Civil Government"
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. — "Civil Disobedience"—"Civil Disobedience"
What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity—who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority.—"Slavery in Massachusetts"
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