"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Background Information:

Date of Birth: July 12, 1817
Date of Death: May 6, 1862
Hometown: Concord, Massachusetts
Education: Attended courses in philosophy, science and math at Harvard from 1833 to 1837.
Family: Son to John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar, grandson to Asa Dunbar who led Harvard's 1766 student Butter Rebellion which was the first recorded student protest in the colonies.
Childhood: Spent childhood in the neighboring towns and was often seen walking around. He had also contracted tuberculosis as a child and had suffered with recurring bouts throughout his life.

Influence on American history:

Henry David Thoreau was an American poet, persuasive abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, critic, historian, and philosopher who made many written contributions such as books, articles, and essays. These writings discussed his findings of ecology and environmental history. He also delivered many lectures against the Fugitive Slave Law. Thoreau's philosophy on civil disobedience encouraged political thoughts and actions of later figures


Henry David Thoreau was most known for his book Walden, which enclosed his reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. This work was not only a personal declaration of independence for Thoreau, but also a social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, and a manual for self reliance. Henry David Thoreau was also most noted for his essay entitled Civil Disobedience. This essay was an argument for individual resistance to civil government to an unjust state. Thoreau believed that the common people should not permit governments to overrule their consciences. Inspired by his disgust for slavery and the Mexican-American War, Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience.


The writings of Henry David Thoreau had influenced many public figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Thoreau also inspired artists, authors of childrens books, and composers with his words.


The words of Henry David Thoreau were not applauded by all people. Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's work stating that living alone in natural simplicity is an isolation from the public people. Also, John Greenleaf Whittier and Richard Zacks were historians who briefly believed that Thoreau's works were unpractical and dreamy.

Fun Facts:

Henry David Thoreau built a home on the shores of Walden Point for twenty eight dollars. He recorded his observations and speculations. Also, Thoreau never earned a living by his writings, but had managed to fill twenty volumes with his inspiring works.