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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (D.A.)



First Advisor

Alex J. H[?]

First Committee Member

Robert Knighton

Second Committee Member



Thoreau’s case is easy in one sense and difficult in another. One of the chief attractions of Civil Disobedience, and one of its necessary limitations, lies in its prophetic quality. Recent American history has confirmed Thoreau’s good judgment in abhorring state-supported racism and a questionable war. But in sympathizing with his outrage over these conditions, we are spared the difficult test to our forbearance that arises when others dissent against issues that lack the persuasive moral justification of Thoreau’s case. So in this respect at least, Thoreau presents a comparatively easy case. His case is difficult in that he minimizes the problem which makes civil disobedience interesting in the first place. That is, Thoreau does not present himself as a genuinely loyal citizen for whom civil disobedience is a difficult act fraught with the pain that gives it moral persuasiveness. Thoreau’s solution to the age-old problem of what to do when one can no longer be both a good person and a good citizen is to deny the problem. For Thoreau, one is always an individual before he is a citizen.