Impact of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience on Mahatma Gandhi

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, and philosopher, who is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau is called a pacifist. He is known to be a champion of the free spirit. He was grossed out by the established political and economic routine of time.

However, Gandhi did not derive his idea of ‘civil disobedience’ from the writings of Thoreau. He has started his resistance to authorities in South Africa much before he got the essay of “civil disobedience” by Thoreau. Gandhi called it “passive resistance”. Gandhi did not prefer to use the term “Civil Disobedience” and instead he used another term “Civil Resistance”.

In South Africa, Gandhi organized the Indians to resist the move. He set up the Passive Resistance Association to run the campaign.

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