Henry David Thoreau on Walking, Part 2

Henry David Thoreau loved to walk. But not only did he love to walk. Thoreau was also aware of the fact that walking always is an exercise in practical freedom. However, there are many obstacles that may be in the way of the rambler; obstacles not so much of the natural kind, obstacles more of the human kind: fences, roads, traps, boundaries, borders etc. Obstacles to freedom.

In a way, it’s all there in the following quote: the demand for the freedom to roam, a critique of gated communities and the nation state, a migration ethics of sort. In 1851 America.

Thoreau wrote in his Journal on 12. February 1851:

„I trust that the walkers of the present day are conscious of the blessings which they enjoy in the comparative freedom with which they can ramble of the country & enjoy the landscape – anticipating with compassion that future day when possibly it will be partitioned off into so called pleasure grounds where only a few may enjoy the narrow & exclusive pleasure which is compatible with ownership. When walking over the surface of Gods earth – shall be construed to mean trespassing on some gentleman’s grounds. When fences shall be multiplied & man traps & other engines invented to confine men to the public road. I am thankfull that we have yet so much room in America.“ (Journal, 12. February 1851)

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