Madison Messervy 1/10/184Gold The Life of HenryDavid Thoreau Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817,in the small town of Concord Massachusetts, where he spent most of his life. Thoreauwas a middle child of four siblings.
He had two older siblings, John and Helen,and a younger sister, Sophia. His parents worked hard to provide him with agood education, recognizing his academic talent. Thoreau’s father operated apencil factory, whereas his mother rented their home out to boarders. Hereceived a high-quality education, attending private schools as a child andfurthering his education at Harvard University. He graduated at the top of hisclass in 1837. Thoreau struggled with what career path to venture down aftergraduating. He was briefly a school teacher but quickly realized that he wasn’tsuited for teaching.
He then, went to work at his father’s pencil factory. Heeventually started a school with his brother John, but it failed soon after dueto John becoming sick. Thoreaubecome very good friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson exposedThoreau to popular ideas of the time, such as transcendentalism and naturalism.Thoreau fell in love with these ways of thinking and the overall lifestyle thataccompanied them. Transcendentalism and naturalism focused on being one withnature and finding one’s spirituality.
Thoreau lived with Emerson for twoyears. In that time he developed a love for writing and literature. With thehelp of Emerson, he published poems and essays in a transcendental journal. Thoreau built ahouse on Emerson’s land by a place known as Walden Pond. He believed that thecommon man was miserable working six days a week. He aimed to work as little aspossible and focused most of his time on writing his first book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers in1849. He later went on to write abouthis experiment of living a simple life enjoying nature in his second book Walden.
During his two years living atWalden Pond, he had a brief encounter with the law due to his refusal to pay apoll tax. Because of this, he was forced to spend a night in jail. Thisexperience led him to voice his very strong political views in an essay called Civil Disobedience. This essay has goneon to be very influential and inspiring to many during major revolutions suchas the civil rights movement and India’s battle for independence from GreatBritain. Afterthe success of Civil Disobedience, Thoreaubegan to strongly voice his political beliefs. He became a dedicatedabolitionist, speaking out against slavery. He also strongly supported CaptainJohn Brown, a man convicted and put to death for conducting an uprising againstslavery.
He was outraged by the death on Captain Brown and wrote the work “Slavery in Massachusetts”highlighting the bravery of Captain Brown and the incredibly awful slave law. Hewas outraged by the concept of slavery and continued to speak out against it.He became a conductor of the underground railroad and aided slaves in escapingto Canada.
Thoreau contacted tuberculosisearlier in life and ultimately, this disease came back to haunt him. He wenthome to Minnesota to receive treatment for his condition. The treatment failedand he died of the tuberculosis in 1862. Even though Thoreau is long gone, hislegacy remains standing. His work Walden hasinspired many.
It addresses many societal faults and encourages citizens to reevaluatetheir current living situations. His writing style influenced many well-knownwriters today as well as inspired many. Thoreau was a writer unmatched by anyother. He truly devoted his life to writing as immersing himself in his work.He lived and died for his beliefs and writings. When Thoreau died, Ralph WaldoEmerson said “The country knows not yet, or in the least part, how great ason it has lost.
. . . His soul was made for the noblest society; he had in ashort life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there isknowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find ahome.”