He asserted in his essay, "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resigns his conscience to the legislator? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward."It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.He declined to pay the poll tax that violated his conscience and so, in July 1846, he was arrested and jailed.
The essay has been variously titled but it is most often referred to simple as "On Civil Disobedience." Civil disobedience is a form of civil resistance. However the acts of civil disobedience must be distinguished from typical cases of crime and acts of civil rebellion.
Thoreau's political theories were not well known during his own time.
The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right." If a man chose to be an agent of injustice, then Thoreau insisted on confronting him with the fact that he was making an option. The individual is the final judge of right and wrong.
Thoreau also questioned that if the government is deems as the voice of the people, shouldn't that voice be considered?
The people who believe they need a government are willing to accept an imperfect one.
Such people, Thoreau argued, accept government as a "necessary evil.
The essay was in fact Thoreau's personal response to being imprisoned for breaking the law.
Thoreau decided to become a tax rebel because he despised slavery and that tax revenues contributed to the support of it.
Mahatma Gandhi at that time was still a young lawyer in South Africa protesting the unfair government treatment to the immigrant workers from India.
From Thoreau, Gandhi found the techniques he subsequently used in the struggle for Indian independence.