By Michael T. Gilmore
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He moves to the woods on "Independence Day, or the fourth of July, 1845" because he considers this a civic enterprise, requiring a reformation or new foundation of American liberty (p. 84). A close connection can be seen here between the project of Walden and Thoreau's appeal at the end of "Civil Disobedience" for a founder or reformer whose eloquence will revive the polity. In the essay, which he wrote while working on the early drafts of the book, he criticizes the country's lawmakers for their failure to "speak with authority" about the government.
96). I11 To negate the "curse of trade" during his stay in the woods, Thoreau supports himself by farming. This is the occupation followed by the majority of his neighbors, but his own experiment in husbandry differs significantly from the commercial agriculture prevalent in Concord. By building his own house and growing his own food, by concentrating on the necessaries of life and renouncing luxuries, he minimizes his dependency on others and removes himself as far as possible from the market economy.
Behold . . " It is a short step from these remarks to the conclusion that nothing is reliable or permanent except the Soul. In fact Emerson had reached such a conclusion a year earlier in Nature, the first major statement of his Transcendentalism and a work, though it antedates the Panic, that provides the most complex and provocative exposition of his attitude toward the market. It may seem curious to speak of Nature as a commentary on exchange society. The essay has been studied from virtually every perspective but this one, and although it was composed at a moment of intense ideological ferment, the climax of Jackson's struggle to de- Emerson and the Persistence of the Commodity stroy the Bank, it appears to take only indirect and passing notice of recent events.
American Romanticism and the Marketplace by Michael T. Gilmore