We should be men first, and subjects afterward.
 Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (1849). copy citation

Author Henry David Thoreau
Source Civil Disobedience
Topic men democracy citizenship
Date 1849
Language English
Weblink http://www.gutenberg.org/files/71/71-h/71-h.htm


“Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?—in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.” source

Meaning and analysis

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