Henry David Thoreau was an American writer and philosopher. He is probably best-known for his memoir Walden.

Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress
  • On July 12, 1817, writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau helped found Transcendentalism, a philosophical movement that championed individuality and questioned the authority of organized religion and political parties. Thoreau was also a passionate abolitionist whose theory of civil disobedience had a profound influence on 20th-century reformers such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Thoreau’s memoir Walden is his most famous publication. Chronicling Thoreau’s two years in a cabin just outside Concord, Walden became a foundation for modern environmentalism and sustainable living.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abolitionist Noun

    person who opposes slavery.

    authority Noun

    person or organization responsible for making decisions.

    authority Noun

    person or organization responsible for making decisions.

    cabin Noun

    area in a vehicle where crew or passengers live.

    influence Verb

    to encourage or persuade a person or organization to act a certain way.

    memoir Noun

    autobiography, or an account of a person's life written by that person.

    profound Adjective

    powerful or insightful.

    religion Noun

    a system of spiritual or supernatural belief.