If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.
To be awake is to be alive.
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.
There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.
I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mended. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour -- for the horse was soon tackled -- was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls -- the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
As for adopting the ways which the state has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone.
If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
Must a citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a
conscience, then? It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
When will the world learn that a million men are of no importance compared with one man?
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
That government is best which governs least.
I heartily accept the motto, that government is best which governs least ... Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe, that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.