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Unique Societal Contribution of Henry David Thoreau


American society to date considers Henry David Thoreau as one of the great writers of the 19th century. Uniquely, Thoreau is recorded as a man who decided to flee from aspects of civilization to reside at Walden Pond. His experience at Walden is illustrated in his Walden masterpiece recounting the life he went through during the three years he lived at this place of refuge. Thoreau had unique ideas firmly rooted in powerful yet vague religious convictions. The majority of his ideas were expressive of the Walden Pond, a home he lived in for three years, empowering his metaphoric writing style. Through writing, Thoreau is celebrated in the U.S as a historical figure with a memorable societal influence.

Thoreau’s Efforts in Enacting Change

Thoreau’s personality and life experience positioned him strategically as one with the ability to enact change in society. With principles, which were fitting together coherently, the author affected both the political and societal realm in the American community. For instance, his commitment to civil disobedience became vital in his contribution to nonviolent ideas. In this perception, Henry appears as a personality with essential philosophical consistency in things he opted to say about human life and politics. David’s social concern would affect spiritual reasoning in his quest to establish humanity. The writer noted that the concrete bottom of reality occurs as dynamited powers affecting the spiritual process. Humanity, which is the experience of things that never separate, conforms to nature’s laws as created by God. Therefore, the aspect defining the living things is the ultimate power, which fashioned their being. Accordingly, the author notes people need to live in society while adhering to the residential environment’s edicts. In this regard, he was embracing his desire to enact a change of connecting humanity to spiritual doctrines.

Thoreau fought tirelessly to see the media change to work for the betterment of the society he lived in. In the 1840s and 1850s, the media landscape existed in similarity to the current media. In this period, media was influential, pervasive, and sometimes questionable in credibility. In the 1800s, people were contented with newspapers as a medium of choice because to them it was ubiquitous in the American imagination. Thoreau was more appalled to the extent of denouncing the newspapers because of various irregularities, including outright baseness and servility. This writer’s main concern was to question the ‘truth’ in regards to where and how it could be found, considering the nature of the information the universal media was airing. Such an effort did qualify him as an individual with zeal to create change.

Just like today, Americans are supposed to navigate through alternative facts and fake news to make decisions they understand best. Thoreau fought to ensure a change in addressing reality and is embraced by the media tools of his time. The Americans in his time and the Americans today are fond of turning to journalism when they need factual accounts about the current events. Therefore, this personality would not give journalists the freedom to falsify information, which would result in an inadequate conception of the nation. David’s ideology of confronting the media as a way of seeking truth and questioning political integrity positioned David as a people’s activist fighting for the best for his residents. It means therefore, Thoreau was more of an activist and not a politician.

Thoreau Was on the Good Side of History

Although David’s influence was controversial at some point, he was on the good side of history. First, he labored to ensure the Americans were literate by publishing books. For instance, he wrote, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. In this book, he questions the viability of government and notes that which men should be aware of is whether the government respects them. The impetus for writing the book roots from his one night jail night because he was defiance of submitting a poll to a particular local constable. He does not support a government that perpetrates injustice, specifically the Mexican-American war and slavery. Through this theory, Thoreau inspired a multitude who considered themselves the most significant political thinkers. There are no doubt people like Martin Luther King Jr., Leo Tolstoy, and Gandhi matured to pursue Thoreau’s dreams. He was a very reliable person who would question the supremacy of the federal government. Some governmental loyalists would consider him a villain; however, he was an influential writer in pointing out the ignorance of the government.

The History Has Its Unique Tale about Thoreau

History talks about Thoreau bountifully to the extent of idolizing him. Many of his works have been published for various purposes, including commercials. However, he was not interested in making the imprint of others profitable, and even he was not ready to correct any impressions. Thoreau had a strong individualism in the context of rejecting societal conventions as well as philosophical idealisms. Such strong beliefs and standing made him distant from others and thus operated or addressed his concerns in an individual context. The history as well depicts him as a writer without the desire to meet external expectations, even if he had some, which varied from others’. Thoreau was genius, practical, and energetic, which represented him as born for both command and enterprise. The above characteristics made him have power, which instead of campaigning for all the Americas, he contested to being a huckleberry-party captain.

History does not only consider David lousy indeed but renders him unsalvageable. The man would target the lawyers, the merchants, and the churchgoers by not only dismissing their values but also writing about them. The above statement reveals that Thoreau was a writer with the ability to ignore making conciliation with those individuals that appeared or felt threatened by the community’s disregard. This approves the idea that David was an all-around individual, with the ability to mention all that he noted as useful for the community’s development. Clearly, history considers him as a man who was idealistic and pragmatic. The individual had extraordinary skills, which appealed to practical men. This personality made this figure grow being admired and revered by most townsmen, even those who had only known him as an oddity. The main point of reference to this person was his work and the way he carried himself while addressing his ideologies.

Thoreau, as some would eulogize him, had superior rights to the land he lived by representing a meaningful place in the community. The author’s expediency was evident when he became useful in the father’s pencil business. Despite his skills as a handyman in the father’s business, he stood out by shunning superficial social connections and would only relish sympathetic companionship. Such personality occurred to him through his straining idealism because of his outstanding of common human craving. On that note, it is vital to agree that history has so far venerated this individual as a father figure to many. The idea shows why he was highly valued as a motivator of great minds such as Martin Luther King Jr.


Henry David Thoreau is among highly appreciated historical figures in the U.S. He is not explicitly honored as an influential person but a legendary writer with the mandate of attacking the government and the society he lived in wisely. Through writing, he strived to see the change of how the government served the people to how media advocated for the community in the context of giving rightful information. Thoreau attacked the media, which was a newspaper, to contribute to supplying truthful information to the community. He wrote books, which reflected his experiences, such as Walden and the On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. Therefore, Henry was on the right side of history because he fought for a positive change in the quest to give the community the best. His works have been published for various purposes, even though he worked as an independent writer who did not connect entirely with others.


Canada, Mark, “Thoreau’s views of 19th-century media resonate today”, The Conversation, 2017, Web.

Fitzpatrick, Katie, “Change the world, not yourself, or how Arendt called out Thoreau”, Aeon, 2018, Web.

Thoreau, D. Henry, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience 1817-1862, Elegant Ebooks, Web.

Thoreau, D. Henry, Walden and on the duty of civil disobedience, Translated by Boss Judith and Widger David. Gutenberg Ebook Walden. 2018, Web.

Young, F. Raphael, “Henry David Thoreau,” in Dissent: the history of an American idea, (New York: NYU Press). Web.

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StudyKraken. "Unique Societal Contribution of Henry David Thoreau." August 24, 2022.


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StudyKraken. (2022) 'Unique Societal Contribution of Henry David Thoreau'. 24 August.

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