Literature by Famous U.S. Authors




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Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

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This essay, inspired by the Mexican American War, is the seminal work on civil disobedience. It was originally delivered as a Concord Lyceum lecture 1848 and was published as Resistance to Civil Government 1849. In 1866 it was published under its current title in A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers. It inspired both Gandhi and King and was, for a while, removed from libraries by Senator Joseph McCarthy.




The War Prayer
by Mark Twain

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This short story, written in response to the Spanish American War, is a good example of the author's acerbic wit and highly refined sense of irony. Twain was discouraged from publishing it during his lifetime, but left instructions for its publication after his death, saying, "None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth."




War
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Revolutions go not backward. The star, once risen, though only one man has yet seen it on the horizon, will climb until it becomes visible to multitudes. And so it is not a great matter how long men refuse to believe the advent of peace. War is on its last legs, and a universal peace is sure. The only question for us is: How soon?