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When reading Henry David Thoreau's Wikipedia page I found that he has been called an anarchist for his essay "Civil Disobedience". Reading the essay I can see where these claims are coming from:

I heart­ily accept the motto, — “That gov­ern­ment is best which gov­erns least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rap­idly and sys­tem­at­i­cally. Car­ried out, it fi­nally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That gov­ern­ment is best which gov­erns not at all;”

I began to wonder whether Thoreau himself ever responded to these claims/attacks. My poor search skills (Googling variations of "Henry David Thoreau anarchist response") turned up nothing but other people arguing over whether he was an anarchist or not.

Did Thoreau respond to claims that he was an anarchist?

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  • There's no occurrence of "anarch" in the journal or the letters on Project Gutenberg. – Adam Burke Feb 19 at 4:59
  • I'm not sure that the term "anarchism" had positive connotations during T.'s lifetime & in his social circles. While moderns may see him advocating ideas in harmony with Anarchist philosophy (& thus a forerunner of Anarchism), I suspect T. saw himself as an adherent of Jeffersonian democracy. – llywrch Feb 22 at 16:53

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