Henry David Thoreau – Jailed For Withholding Poll Taxes – July 23, 1846
MassMoments reminds us that on this day – July 23, 1846 – Henry David Thoreau after walking from his Walden Pond cabin to do an errand – found himself in the Concord town jail for refusing to pay his back taxes. His was just an over-night stay – as someone unasked paid those taxes for him. This greatly annoyed Thoreau who withheld the poll taxes as a conscience protest against the institution of slavery. As he later wrote in his essay “”Civil Disobedience” –
“…it is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and . . . not to give it practically his support.”
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist admired as an original thinker and a gifted writer. He produced an extraordinary body of work — journals, essays, poetry, and books – that included his first book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” published in 1849 and “Walden, or, Life in the Woods” published in 1854.
Read more about Thoreau here at MassMoments.com.