Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau Essay

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The essays by Martin Luther King Jr., “Letters From Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” show how one can be a civil person and protest against unfair, unjust laws forced upon them. Both authors are very persuasive in their letter writings. Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. write about the injustice of government laws, of right and wrong, and one’s moral and upstanding conscience of a human being. Martin Luther King Jr. is a religious, peaceful man who uses non-violent rallies to gather American’s to unite against segregation for the greater good and future of America. Henry David Thoreau writes of his own individual rights and those of others, which government opposes unlawful laws of taxes to …show more content…
A just law is a man- made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. (159-160)

Martin Luther King Jr. tells us one should obey the law’s set forth by government and God, we all have a conscience, and we are morally bound to do what is right. The difference in regards to the laws set by government; Martin Luther King Jr. has a calm religious tone about how to get his word heard, and wants people to change as a whole group. Henry David Thoreau used a more direct manner of obedience towards the law, and is only concerned with his own prejudice hatred towards the government. Although they both believe the government has morally just and unjust laws, they both believe government is very flawed, and it must change for the future growth of America. Martin Luther King Jr. states, “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to abbey but does not make binding on itself” (160). Martin Luther King Jr. believes in the law and all Americans should be treated equal. While Henry David Thoreau uses the law’s set by