Family Tree Tuesday – Henry David Thoreau
On August 9, 1854, author Henry David Thoreau‘s most famous novel, Walden, was published. In addition to his work as an author, Thoreau was an accomplished philosopher and abolitionist. As a leading figure of the Transcendentalist movement, Thoreau’s writings inspired many political leaders and reformers including Mahatma Ghandi, President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817. His father, John Thoreau, was a pencil maker and businessman. His mother, Cynthia Dunbar, was a homemaker and active in the Concord Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. His mother greatly valued education and ensured her children received the best schooling. In 1833, Henry began his studies at Harvard, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.
While a student at Harvard, Thoreau’s maternal grandfather, Asa Dunbar, led the first recorded student protest in the United States. Known as the Great Butter Rebellion, Dunbar led students in a protest against the poor food service at the university.
Henry had two older siblings, Helen Louisa Thoreau and John Thoreau, Jr., and one younger sister named Sophia Thoreau. Both of his older siblings were school teachers and supported Henry while he attended Harvard. Sophia eventually took over her father’s business and after the death of Henry, edited some of his works for publication.
Check out Henry David Thoreau’s family tree and see how you’re related!