Henry David Thoreau
"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. I did not wish to live what was
not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite
necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so
sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath
and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
- From a very young age, Thoreau was known by his Concord, MA neighbors as an eccentric. He rarely followed the rules, and was strong-willed but casual about his studies.
- He attended Concord Academy, a college prep school, and five years later he enrolled at Harvard.
- Harvard University's dress code called for students to wear black coats, but Thoreau always wore green.
- Always questioned rules that were presented to him.
- Thoreau and his older brother John established their own school in Concord, but had to close it soon after John became ill.
- In 1841, Thoreau moved into the house of Emerson. He lived there for two years performing odd jobs to pay for his room and board. He soon became fascinated by Emerson's Transcendentalist beliefs, and became a devoted disciple.
- Henry David Thoreau was Emerson's most famous protege. Thoreau heard Emerson speak at Harvard when he was twenty-four years old.
- In 1845, he built a rough cottage in the woods at Walden Pond and went there to live alone, in harmony with nature, untied to material things. He lived here for two years and wrote about his experiences in his 1854 book, Walden.
- Thoreau was a fierce abolitionist. To protest slavery and the Mexican War, he refused to pay taxes and was imprisoned for one night in jail.