Thoreau, Henry David


Philosopher and Author

Henry David Thoreau shared with Ralph Waldo Emerson and other transcendentalists an ideal of manhood grounded in scholarly activity, self-awareness, and self-reliance. More radical in his advocacy of dissent, Thoreau espoused an environmentally conscious definition of manhood that encompassed, at least in part, the tenets of capitalism. Whereas Emerson initially eschewed market capitalism, only to embrace it whole-heartedly after 1860, Thoreau accepted market exchange, but rejected the exploitation of both labor and nature.

Thoreau graduated from Harvard in 1837, and then returned to his native Concord, Massachusetts, to take a position as a teacher in the town's public school. During the 1840s, he observed that the market revolution was undermining Concord's identity as a small fishing village. The town experienced firsthand the selective forces ...

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