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Site of the Old Concord Jail

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Site of the Old Concord Jail
This marker commemorates the place where Thoreau spent a night in prison in 1846, after having refused to pay taxes for 6 years in protest of both slavery & his country's expansionist foreign policy.

On the Lokashakti Network since:
Thursday, 15 March 2012

Monument Square
Concord, Massachusetts
United States

Type of network resource:
  • Historical Marker

Issues addressed:
  • Peace / Nonviolence
  • Civil Rights / Civil Liberties


Site of the Old Concord Jail
Henry David Thoreau was on an errand in town when he encountered Sam Staples, the Concord constable, tax collector, and jailer. Staples took the opportunity to ask Thoreau to pay his back taxes. The independent-minded, highly principled naturalist refused, and Staples politely escorted him to jail.

The next morning, he learned that someone had paid the tax. He never knew who. Although Thoreau objected, the constable insisted on releasing him. This experience led him to write a powerful lecture on the "relation of the individual to the State." The lecture was published in 1849 as "Resistance to Civil Government," and is now known as "Civil Disobedience." This masterful essay has influenced generations of activists, including Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau writes about the night he spent in jail in his book Walden.

The marker here reads, "HENRY DAVID THOREAU was imprisoned for one night in a jail on this site, July, 1846 for refusing to recognize the right of the state to collect taxes from him in support of slavery – an episode made famous in his essay 'Civil Disobedience.'"

Site of the Old Concord Jail – Map View

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