Henry Thoreau, nature, and american democracy

Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (1):46-64 (1994)
Abstract
In a famous passage from “Slavery In Massachusetts,” Thoreau writes, “The remembrance of my country spoils my walk. My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her.”1 Here is Thoreau the anarchist, the misanthrope, the self-righteous angry young man, as he is so often portrayed in the secondary literature. It would be easy to consider the issue resolved: the conventional wisdom about Thoreau's misanthropy and anarchism are demonstrated, and there is little more to say. It would also be a significant mistake—one that has been made over and over again by commentators on both his political views and his nature writings. Thoreau's comment is not the climax of “Slavery in Massachusetts,” but rather is the prelude to the climax. Consider the passage that follows and leads to the conclusion of the essay
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