What does the quote 'That government is best which governs not at all' from Henry David Thoreau mean?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

The context is:

I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, - "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, - "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Essentially Thoreau is saying that people are better off when they are left to themselves, without the government's meddling (which is most of what government does). But, he qualifies the statement, it takes a particular sort of person to be able to live in such a society (without it breaking up into hunter-gather bands).
2 people found this useful

Why did Henry David Thoreau write poems and books?

because he learned how to read and write and at school, he read one of his stories to the teacher, and then he liked his poem and decided to write poetry and books and he thought that writing poems and books were fun.

Who is Henry David Thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau is a American writer and poet. Henry David Thoreau was not only a writer, he was a philosopher, a scientist, and an acclaimed transcendentalist.

Who was Henry david thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau was an American writer, philosipher, and nautralism who believed in the importance of indiviualism

Why was Henry David Thoreau civil disbedient?

He was a nonconformist who believed, among other things, that no one should do what is against their own will. He was trying to prove that though we live in a free country, he was more free than those who conformed and payed their taxes.

Henry David thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau (Born: 1817 Died: 1862) was an American writer and philosopher. He believed strongly in the importance of individuality and he was an acclaimed Transcendentalist. He was able to attend college at Harvard University greatly in part to his brother, John, paying for his tuition.

What did Jefferson mean by govern least governs best?

Jefferson didn't say it. Or at least there is no record of him saying it & it doesn't appear in any of his writings. The qoute seems to have originate in Henry David Thoreau's essay entitled Civil Disobedience published in 1849 Without more context or knowledge of Thomas Jefferson's personal bel (MORE)

What did Henry David Thoreau believe?

Henry David Thoreau believed a great many things as they related tonature. He believed in living simply and that nature could teachhumans many things.

Why did Henry David Thoreau go to jail?

He refused to pay a tax that would be used to support slavery 1846. He spent a night in jail for refusing to pay delinquent poll taxes. See the link below.

Where is the quote That Government is best which governs least?

The quote can be found in Henry David Thoreau's essay entitled Civil Disobedience published in 1849. However the quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but there is no writing suggesting Jefferson actually said it. [Edit: Indeed Jefferson did NOT coin this phrase. This motto (originally " (MORE)

Why did Henry David Thoreau go to live at Walden Pond?

Henry David Thoreau actually addresses why he decided to go live atWalden Pond in his famous book "Walden." He set off to live thereas part of a sort of spiritual quest to live simply and withoutsupport in order to see whether or not such a life was "mean" or"sublime."

That Government is best which governs not at all?

this makes no sense. u crazy It comes from Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, - "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I beli (MORE)

What did Henry David Thoreau accomplish?

His defense of abolitionist John Brown garnered public support for abolition of slavery, his book Walden became a major inspiration for generations of environmentalists and non conformists, and his essay Civil Disobedience has inspired leaders including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., a (MORE)

What does the quote 'only that day dawns to which we are awake' from Henry David Thoreau mean?

To me it means that just as in a literal sense we totally miss the dawning of a new day if we are asleep, we can totally miss the many wonders and lessons of our lives if we do not quicken our minds and hearts to be sensitive and open to noticing and attending to them. This applies to all aspects of (MORE)

Why did Henry david Thoreau go to jail in 1846?

He didn't pay a poll taxes for 6 years. poll tax: fee some states and localities required from each citizen as a qualification for voting. It is now considered unconstitutional in the United States to charge such a tax.

How did Henry david Thoreau brother die?

John cut himself while shaving and died of lockjaw in his brother's arms, an untimely death which traumatized the 25 year old Henry.. p.s I hope this help you

What did Henry David Thoreau write about?

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord,Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, withpoet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend. In 1845 he beganhis famous two-year stay on Walden Pond, which he wrote about inhis master work, Walden .He also became known fo (MORE)

Did Henry david Thoreau have any sisters?

yes, he has two sisters. Helen, who was five years older then he was and Sophia who as two years younger. He also had a brother, John Jr. who was two years older then he.

What is the Resistance to Civil Government by Thoreau?

Thoreau's essay Civil Disobedience was published in 1849 under the title "Resistance to Civil Government." Thoreau was briefly jailed in 1847 for refusal to pay taxes in protest against the Mexican War. He became interested in transcendentalism as promulgated by Emerson (author of Self-Reliance ) (MORE)

Did Henry David Thoreau drink tea?

yes he did...he was quoted as saying "tea is wealth itself because there is nothing that cannot be lost, no problem that will not disappear, no burden that will not float away, between the first sip and the last." what a wise man. :)

Why is Henry David Thoreau famous?

Among many things, Henry David Thoreau is widely known for his transcendentalist philosophical writings such as Walking and Walden, which reflected upon the simplicity, beauty and spirituality of mother earth- nature. Henry David Thoreau was also well known for his essay, Civil Disobedience, (MORE)

What are some of Henry David Thoreau most famous works?

His two most famous works were his novel, Walden, which told about his life when he build his own house and lived on Walden Pond, and his essay Civil Disobedience, which was essentially the anthem of transcendentalism.

Did Henry david Thoreau write walden?

In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published the book Walden, or Life in the Woods . This memoir recounted the two years, two months, and two days he had spent at Walden Pond. The book compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of four seasons to symbolize human development. In (MORE)

Why was Henry David Thoreau put in jail?

Thoreau was jailed for his refusal to pay a tax he disagreed with. (A friend paid the tax for him, and Thoreau was released within hours.) Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience" encouraged actions against government when unhappy with its decisions. Thoreau acted in accordance with his works ;)

Was Henry David Thoreau a materialist?

No he wasn't he saw it as evil and corrupt he actually was very anti materalism. There are many quotes for proof, i would copy and paste them but no time on my hands right now.

What did Henry David Thoreau have to do with the Mexican War?

Henry was put in jail due to failure to pay his taxes . Bringing up the question 'Why did he not pay his taxes?' Henry refused to pay his taxes which went to the government and he believed his tax money supported the Mexican War. Henry wanted nothing to do with killing of any human being.

What is true about this quote from Walden by Henry David Thoreau When you looked across the pond from this peak toward the Sudbury meadows which in time of flood you distinguished elevated?

The full Walden quote is: That way I looked between and over the near green hills to somedistant and higher ones in the horizon, tinged with blue. Indeed,by standing on tiptoe I could catch a glimpse of some of the peaksof the still bluer and more distant mountain ranges in thenorthwest, those true- (MORE)

How old is Henry David Thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 and died on May 6, 1862. Henry David Thoreau would have been 44 years old at the time of death or 198 years old today.

When was Henry David Thoreau he alive?

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 and died in 1862 of tuberculosis/bronchitis. He was 44. He was not only a writer but also and abolitionist, and was interested in botany and natural resources, among other things.

What political party was Henry david Thoreau a part of?

Thoreau is sometimes cited as an anarchist, and though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government-"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"-the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: "'That government is best whi (MORE)

Why was Henry David Thoreau against the Mexican War and how did he show it?

Although he spent only a single night in jail (his aunt, againsthis wishes, paid the taxes, thus securing his release), Thoreaudocumented his opposition to the government's actions in his famousbook-length essay CivilDisobedience (1849), insisting that if an injustice ofgovernment is . of suc (MORE)