7 Interesting Facts about Henry David Thoreau

1) Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor and historian.

2) Thoreau was a leader in the Transcendentalist movement.

3) Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days in a cabin near Walden Pond where he wrote “Walden.” Walden compresses the little over two years into one year using the four seasons as a metaphor for human development. The book inspired by the transcendentalist philosophy was an attempt at personal spiritual enlightenment and is somewhat of a manual for self-reliance.

Thoreau Walden

4) The Cabin near Walden Pond was not actually in the wilderness, but on the edge of town, as noted in his book “Walden.” Thoreau neither rejected civilization nor fully embraced wilderness. Instead he sought a middle ground, the pastoral realm that integrates both nature and culture

5) Thoreau’s essay “Resistance to Civil Government often referred to as “Civil Disobedience”, was an argument for disobedience to an unjust state and later inspired leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

6) Thoreau was an early advocate of recreational hiking and canoeing. He was an early conservationist believing in conserving natural resources on private land, and preserving wilderness on public land. He saw value in a vegetarian diet as a matter of practicality. He felt that eating animals was inefficient and unclean and that it ultimately cost the self-reliant individual more in energy than it offered in return. However he did not keep a strict vegetarian diet.

7) Thoreau was close friends and a protégé of fellow transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and it was on Emerson’s property where Thoreau lived and wrote Walden.