Founded in 1941, The Thoreau SocietyTM is the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author.

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Henry D. Thoreau

The struggle for social and environmental justice

Henry David Thoreau saw the exploitation of people and of nature as two sides of the same coin of injustice and oppression. In his own day, he decried an economic and political system that countenanced human bondage even as it despoiled nature. As he asks in “Slavery in Massachusetts,” “[W]hat signifies the beauty of nature when men are base?”

The Thoreau Society continues our namesake’s struggle to open all eyes to social and environmental injustice, and to end blindness to the consequences of unchecked racism, climate change, and other threats to individual freedom, democratic equality, and social justice in the United States and around the world. As a community devoted to Thoreau’s legacy, we are a work-in-progress, committed to the perpetual challenge of improving the Thoreau Society as an embodiment—and a promoter—of these ideals.

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Eric Weiner

“A few weeks before my journey to Concord, I stumbled upon a New Yorker article about Thoreau. It was called "Pond Scum" and, as you can imagine, did little to rehabilitate the Hermit of Concord in my mind. The story's author, Kathryn Schulz, opens the piece by painting a picture of the coldhearted, misanthropic crank. Then she takes the gloves off. But as the commuter train pulls into Concord Station, just as it did during Thoreau's day, I resolve to maintain an open mind.”

The Great Tide of Humanity: Race and Gender Reform in 19th Century Concord, Massachusetts

Henry David Thoreau and his fellow Transcendentalists sparked a literary revolution, 60 years after the American Revolution in the tiny town of Concord. Armed with the ideas of social reform, the Transcendentalists of Concord, the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society, Thoreau women, and early Civil Rights Activist Ellen Garrison addressed the reform issues of the day — slavery, the aftermath of slavery, and women’s rights.