A Historical Guide to Henry David Thoreau (Historical Guides by William E. Cain

By William E. Cain

As an essayist, thinker, ex-pencil producer, infamous hermit, tax protester, and all-around unique philosopher, Thoreau led so singular a lifestyles that he's in many ways an ideal candidate for the ancient and biographical remedies made attainable via the historic publications to American Authors sequence layout. William E. Cain, the amount editor, comprises contributions on his dating with nineteenth century authority and ideas of the land, which will help the volume's achieve past those that learn Thoreau for illumination to these common readers who love him for embodying the spirit of yank uprising.

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Extra resources for A Historical Guide to Henry David Thoreau (Historical Guides to American Authors)

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Thoreau's site was about a mile and a half south of town, on land (a pasture and woodlot, of about fifteen acres) that Emerson had purchased in September 1844. The subtitle of the book in which Thoreau later wrote about his experiences is "Life in the Woods," and we tend to associate him with forests near a pond and paths between tall trees. But the woods where Thoreau resided were one of the very few forest areas remaining in the Concord environs. Most people made their living from the land; by the first decades of the nineteenth century, not only Concord, but indeed some 60 percent or more of New England was open fields.

Travel to resorts was made possible by the extension of the railroad, a crucial sign of the technological transformation of 28 Henry David Thoreau American life to which Thoreau devotes critical analysis in Walden, where he describes the construction of the track from Boston to Fitchburg along the western shore of the pond. The power of the locomotive impressed him, but he hated its effects on the land and its role in promoting commerce and undermining personal freedom: The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer's yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town, or adventurous country traders from the other side.

William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and other Boston-area abolitionists were aware of the moral ambiguity of standing firm against violence in theory and yet accepting or at least condoning it in practice. But their willingness to do so grew as they witnessed the tragic failure of legal measures to prevent the return to slavery of two fugitives in Boston, Thomas Sims (1851) and Anthony Burns (1854). Thoreau opposed slavery but in general stayed away from abolitionist rallies and antislavery organizations.

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