200 years ago today, the writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was born, in Concord, Massachusetts. A leading transcendentalist and one of the first environmentalists, Thoreau is best known for building his own tiny one-room cabin on nearby Walden Pond and writing a book about simple living in natural surroundings. As he set out to “live deliberately,” he found spiritual fulfillment within the harmony of nature’s four seasons. Also an abolitionist and tax resister, Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, and poetry have influenced many of the great thinkers of the 20th century. WATCH a tour of the cabin by Bob Vila… (1817)

Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and an essay “Civil Disobedience”, an argument for disobedience to an unjust state, which influenced the political thoughts of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr..

RELATEDWalk in Footsteps of Thoreau at Walden Pond in a New Video Game

As a philosopher, he said famously, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.“ See more of Thoreau’s writings on Amazon.

MORE Good News on this Day in History:

  • The first minimum wage was established — at 33 cents per hour — by the United States Congress (1933)
  • 19 year-old Elvis Presley quit his day job at The Crown Electric Company after signing a recording contract with Sun Records (1954)
  • The Rolling Stones performed in public for the first time, at the Marquee Club in Soho, London (1962)
  • Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman nominated for vice-president by a major U.S. political party, chosen by Walter Mondale of the Democratic party (1984)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe declared independence from Portugal (1975)

Notable Birthdays: Malala Yousafzai (20); skater Kristi Yamaguchi (46); Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac (74)



Today is another day in New York City when the sunset occurs along the center line of Manhattan’s street grid, sometimes known as the NYC Solstice, or Manhattanhenge. If you missed it yesterday, the half sun, if there is no cloud cover, will again be illuminating both sides of the street at 8:30 p.m. (Photo by Dan Nguyen, CC)