A Thought From Thoreau

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Miscellany
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“This American government,-what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?  It has not the validity and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will.  It is a sort of wooden gun for the people themselves.  But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have.  Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage.  It is excellent, we must all allow.  Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.  It does not keep the country free.  It does not settle the West.  It does not educate.  The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”

From Henry David Thoreau “Civil Disobedience”



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