"A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote."
Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862) American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist
Civil Disobedience (1849)
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Reader comments about this quote:
At this point in American history, we're all slaves to the credit / fiat currency system. Born to debt we can never repay. Subjugated by the wreckless policies of administrations past and present. Unless you adhere to the system by using plastic money / credit you can't even get a hotel room...so much for freedom.
 -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Carlton is right. I used to travel for a company and carried 700 dollars or so in cash for expenses. Now if the cops stop you and find that you are carrying that much cash, they will confiscate it saying that it is the fruits of a drug deal. They do it all the time. It is now essentially illegal to carry cash in any amount over a few dollars.
     -- jim k, Austin     
    I'm not sure how to rate this quote. There are accuracies but it does not fit, as a whole, the reality of political life. It is not right that man should be in the slavery of compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, etc. The slave can not comprehend anything outside of his area of comfort chains, to even vote on. The value of a vote in the statist theocracy that infests this land is only worth what the slave masters would have it say. In the Republic that was, wise men voted on how best to implement the existing natural law while the statist theocracy acts upon its man made cannons as though they were law itself, ensuring its continuing congregation of slaves.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    A lousy construction for sure. A wise man will stand for the right regarless of the majority but always have the faith that his right opinion will eventually be the majority opinion, I know that I do. And a fair man will be patient with the majority knowing that there are many wise men and women among them and that they will come to see the right. In the mean time and in between time the majority is always "right". This is democracy, lousy but better than anything else.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Yes, a little confusing, but "There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men" is correct because collectivism is but another form of corporatism in which might makes right and the irresponsible can merely hide behind the force of the masses. All matter of crime has been committed en mass because the dissident individual is easily over-powered.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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