Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King were both revolutionaries fighting for the same goal, justice. Thoreau's ideas laid the foundation for the battle in which King would serve as Major General. Yet while both shared similar views, Thoreau was never able to attain the same following as King. While it's true that perhaps King had a more immediate cause than Thoreau, his ability cause such glorious revolution was largely due to his mastery of the art of persuasion. .
While Thoreau was a source of inspiration for Martin Luther King, to the masses, his seemingly extremist views were far from engaging. In the first few lines of "Civil Disobedience", Thoreau is quick to proclaim his desire to eliminate government entirely with the controversial statement, "That government is best which governs not at all". While his true intention, like that of Martin Luther King, is to ensure that justice is served to every man; Thoreau's quick, radical statements make him seem like a dangerous anarchist. Throughout his essay, Thoreau tries to encourage acts of civil disobedience by attacking the government for its apparent wrongs. For most citizens, the government is a central foundation in which they find stability; by attacking it so directly and openly, Thoreau is attacking the beliefs of a large portion of his audience. While his statements may convince some radicals, the masses will be either offended or remain unconvinced.
Martin Luther King was dealing with a controversial topic, the integration of a country, much set upon its segregated ways. He was trying to convince the public to rise up against their government, but to do so both peacefully and in a manner in which he personally, would not seem too much of a threat to the "American Way". In "I Have a Dream", Martin Luther King expressed a powerful message of revolt against the policies of a nation and its government. He encouraged the same kind of peaceful revolt that Thoreau set forth in "Civil Disobedience", yet he encouraged it in a temperate manner.