Civil Disobedience: An American Tradition

Hardcover | October 22, 2013

byLewis Perry

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The distinctive American tradition of civil disobedience stretches back to pre-Revolutionary War days and has served the purposes of determined protesters ever since. This stimulating book examines the causes that have inspired civil disobedience, the justifications used to defend it, disagreements among its practitioners, and the controversies it has aroused at every turn.
 
Tracing the origins of the notion of civil disobedience to eighteenth-century evangelicalism and republicanism, Lewis Perry discusses how the tradition took shape in the actions of black and white abolitionists and antiwar protesters in the decades leading to the Civil War, then found new expression in post–Civil War campaigns for women’s equality, temperance, and labor reform. Gaining new strength and clarity from explorations of Thoreau’s essays and Gandhi’s teachings, the tradition persisted through World War II, grew stronger during the decades of civil rights protest and antiwar struggles, and has been adopted more recently by anti-abortion groups, advocates of same-sex marriage, opponents of nuclear power, and many others. Perry clarifies some of the central implications of civil disobedience that have become blurred in recent times—nonviolence, respect for law, commitment to democratic processes—and throughout the book highlights the dilemmas faced by those who choose to violate laws in the name of a higher morality.

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The distinctive American tradition of civil disobedience stretches back to pre-Revolutionary War days and has served the purposes of determined protesters ever since. This stimulating book examines the causes that have inspired civil disobedience, the justifications used to defend it, disagreements among its practitioners, and the cont...

Lewis Perry is John Francis Bannon, S.J., Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Saint Louis University. His previous books have dealt with anarchism, antislavery movements, American intellectual life, and moral problems in history. He lives in St. Louis, MO.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:424 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 1.13 inPublished:October 22, 2013Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300124597

ISBN - 13:9780300124590

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"Perry excels when he explores those confrontations that have evaded historians for far too long. His first chapter details the case of Samuel Worcester, a missionary  sent to 'civilize' the Cherokee and later arrested resisting their removal. Perry then restores the forgotten agency of black abolitionists, who straddled the line between obedience in striving for citizenship and disobedience in resisting slavery. . . . There is much to recommend in Perry’s scholarship, especially for active practitioners of nonviolent direct action." —Philip Wight, Waging Nonviolence