Sample of student writing after using an evidence chart of quotes suggested by the class. Quotes are in green for you.


Although Emerson did not write about combating injustice nonviolently, he did feel strongly that conscience is essential. He wrote how important it is to think independently and decide what is right or wrong. Even more important to Emerson is to remain consistent in one’s thinking, even when influenced by others. “It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” He explains that remaining true to one’s own thinking and not allowing others to influence an opinion is crucial in life.

        Emerson’s thoughts on conscience and independence influenced Thoreau’s “On Civil Disobedience.” He writes about deciding what is right or wrong, and doing what’s right. “The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.” He says that he does what he thinks is right, using his conscience to decide. On top of Emerson’s thoughts on conscience, Thoreau goes on to say that there are unjust laws and action needs to be taken against them. “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” Thoreau believes that breaking laws that are unjust will eventually lead to the better of the laws and the government. Thoreau makes a clear example of civil disobedience when he wrote about refusing to pay taxes because he was against the Mexican War. He was put in prison, but writes “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” Thoreau is explaining that when a government has unjust laws, they must be broken, and prison is the place for just men.