A fellow citizen of “the Sage of Concord” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose biography I also uploaded on this blog a few weeks ago), Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was also a pioneer in fostering a way of thinking and behaving towards a more humane and fair society. His name stands strong in the fields of writing, poetry and philosophy, with leit motifs regarding Transcendentalism and nature (he is considered the first environmentalist).

He is remembered as one of the fathers of modern American literature, as well. In his book ‘Walden’ he reflected the life experience of living alone in a cabin in the woods with no contact with any city. Henry David Thoreau conceptualized the resistance to the absolute power of a government over the people, in his ‘Civil Disobedience’. In this sense, he was even jailed for refusing to pay taxes to fund slavery or the war between the US against Mexico.

Hence he is commonly acknowledged by many leaders or activists of movements for human and civil rights, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Tolstoy, among others. Of his work, in addition to the mentioned titles, we can also recommend ‘Walking’, ‘Life Without Principle’ and ‘Cape Cod’.

Some of Thoreau’s ideas:


What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.


There is no remedy for love but to love more.


Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.


It takes two to speak the truth -one to speak and another to hear.


Things do not change; we change.


Goodness is the only investment that never fails.


What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?


If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.


I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately; to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.


If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.


There will never be a really free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.


I recommend you read and reflect about all what was written by this singular author.


Álex Rovira

Alex Rovira