Henry David Thoreau's thoughts towards the citizen's role in our country's government are poured into his 1849 work titled, "Civil Disobedience." Following suit some years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a compelling essay titled, " Letter From Birmingham Jail," covering his feelings towards unjust laws and what we should do concerning them. Using both emotional and logical appeals, both men deliver arguments that bring men to their feet. However, Civil Disobedience had more staying power then Letter From Birmingham Jail. In fact, King admitted that he was inspired by Thoreau's work. Furthermore, both essays addressed a citizen's duty to protect his liberty but Thoreau's essay had more strength to move men into action. .
Thoreau uses solid diction and thought provoking rhetorical questions to compel the reader to an opinion on justice. He uses Allusions and metaphors to the Bible and other sentimental subjects to relate to the reader on an emotional level. Other than that, Thoreau's essay was mainly conducted of logical appeals. While Thoreau's essay is almost completely constructed of compiled logic and reasoning; King's letter is made up of both emotional and logical appeals, with a noticeable more amount of emotional. In Letter From Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. 's main goal was not to protest, but to correct the clergymen who wrongly accused him of being an "extremist." His diction is most certainly one of the finer points in his emotional argument. Including phrases such as, "we were the victims of a broken promise," and "our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us," how could one not take his pitiful side? Short stories lace the essay, providing for a link to the reader and his/her own childhood.