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A Plea for Captain John Brown

Henry David Thoreau

Book Overview: 

A Plea for Captain John Brown is an essay by Henry David Thoreau. It is based on a speech Thoreau first delivered to an audience at Concord, Massachusetts on October 30, 1859, two weeks after John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, and repeated several times before Brown’s execution on December 2, 1859. (summary by wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .icate his own resolution; therefore he appeared incomparably strong, and eloquence in Congress and elsewhere seemed to me at a discount. It was like the speeches of Cromwell compared with those of an ordinary king.

As for his tact and prudence, I will merely say, that at a time when scarcely a man from the Free States was able to reach Kansas by any direct route, at least without having his arms taken from him, he, carrying what imperfect guns and other weapons he could collect, openly and slowly drove an ox-cart through Missouri, apparently in the capacity of a surveyor, with his surveying compass exposed in it, and so passed unsuspected, and had ample opportunity to learn the designs of the enemy. For some time after his arrival he still followed the same profession. When, for instance, he saw a knot of the ruffians on the prairie, discussing, of course, the single topic which then occupied their minds, he would, perhaps, take his compass and one of his sons,. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I find Thoreau's command of the written language to be astounding. I very much liked this book and I'm surprised that I wasn't required to read this in high school or college.

Robust intertwined structures of thoughts and senses to delight our minds with multicoloured pixels of projections into worlds belonging to what physical contours hold dearly.
‘The water willow, salix Purshiana, when it is of large size and entire, is the most graceful and ethereal of our trees. Its

I first read this paean to a rustic, forgotten - and mostly vanished - way of life in the Purple Passion Pit.

I'll try to clarify my apparent lapse into levity...

You see, the Pit was the ultra-modern reading room in a converted 19th century chapel within the Victorian Gothic stone and ivy-covered wal

G.K. Chesterton once said, “There are no boring subjects, only disinterested minds.” I believe this vision of the world is one of the main themes that runs throughout Walden. Thoreau writes about seemingly every minute detail during his experience at Walden Pond, and he mixes in his precious New Eng

The thing is, I look for simplicity in philosophical writing for I agree with Albert Einstein when he talked about how if one cannot explain something to a child, one doesn't truly know it. My knowledge and my understanding are intertwined, and thus when I don't understand (tangents, for example, ar

This book is a treasure for lovers of the simplicity movement. It is now one of my favourite, and one which I would come back to again and again.

It’s not just Thoreau’s message of simplicity, self-reliance and independent thinking which resonates strongly with me. The passion, vigour and clarity in

Introduction, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

--A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

--Cape Cod [A Selection]
--The Allegash and East Branch [Abridged]

--Civil Disobedience
--Slavery in Massachusetts
--A Plea for Captain John Brown
--Life Without Principle

Reading Group Guide

Who'd have thought that Thoreau (1817–62) would be the ideal corrective for 2020? Solitude, civil resistance, ecology, fake news, the evils of capitalism... Thoreau treats all these themes (and more) with insight, feeling and a wiry sort of eloquence.

The titular Walden is, without a doubt, the crown

I am giving 5 stars to "Life without Principle," "On Civil Disobedience," and the following chapters from Walden: Economy, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, Reading, Solitude, Higher Laws, Conclusion. The rest of the book was about nature. While I'm thumbs up when it comes to experiencing nature,

Civil Disobedience is worth engaging, but my god I don't even have a shitpost for how inane and boring Walden is. I've also been to the pond; it's just as boring as the text, and I couldn't get a moment to myself.

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