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Henry David Thoreau: 12 quotes on his birthday

Henry David Thoreau, American poet, author, naturalist, philosopher, abolitionist, and leading Transcendentalist, was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Mass. While studying at Harvard, Thoreau read "Nature ," a small book written by his neighbor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson took an interest in young Thoreau and introduced him into his circle of friends where Thoreau met some of the greatest thinkers of his time. In 1845, Thoreau began a two year experiment of simple living in which he built himself a hut on Emerson’s land, on the banks of Walden Pond. From this experience came Thoreau's famous book "Walden, or Life in the Woods" (1854). Thoreau also refused to pay taxes because he disagreed with both the Mexican-American War and slavery. He was imprisoned for one night and released the next day when his aunt paid his taxes for him against his will. After this experience, Thoreau wrote the essay entitled "Resistance to Civil Government," also known as "Civil Disobedience" (1849). Thoreau also wrote books about natural history and travel narratives. These works were dismissed during his lifetime, but are now recognized as a true scientific study of ecological patterns. Thoreau died in 1862 and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass.

By Elizabeth Drake, Contributor

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Photo by Benjamin D. Maxham, 1856

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1. Aim high

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” 

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