(a 4 minute read)

How quotes about change by Clara Barton and Henry Thoreau from over a hundred years ago resonate with a traveler to Gettysburg NMP and Harpers Ferry NHP.

Harpers Ferry West Virginia Shenandoah Potomac River

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, viewed from Maryland Heights, at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.

What Clara and Henry Taught Me: Quotes About Change

Last summer’s major road trip was a doozy! We took the Amtrak Auto Train from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia, drove north to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and then made our way home through the course of the following week. Always the compulsive over-planner, I designed a route that would allow us to visit as many scenic and historical sites as possible from beginning to end.

The week-long itinerary included:

  • Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • George Washington’s Mt. Vernon
  • Gettysburg National Military Park for the 150th Anniversary
  • Eisenhower National Historic Site
  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
  • Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina
  • Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Pinebox, my North Georgia mountain cabin
  • Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School class in Plains, Georgia

By the end of the week, we had completed it all, other than the second half of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was aborted due to the band of summer storms that pounded the Appalachians in early July. There were a couple of days the schedule was tight, but overall it was an incredible trip. We immersed ourselves in scenic beauty and regional cuisine, and inhaled every cultural and historical site to the max. But at journey’s end, it was powerful quotes about change from two 19th century Americans that resonated with me the most and challenge me to this day.

Quotes About Change: Clara Barton

The first quote was part of a special Gilder Lehrman exhibit, Treasures of the Civil War, at the Gettysburg NMP Museum:

Clara Barton by Mathew Brady 1865

Clara Barton 1821-1912

It irritates me to be told how things always have been done . . . . I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.
—Clara Barton, The Story of My Childhood, 1907


Quotes About Change: Henry David Thoreau

I discovered the second quote near the end of the John Brown exhibit at Harpers Ferry NHP:

Henry David Thoreau

Henry D. Thoreau 1817-1862

Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made or declared by any number of men to be good, if they are not good?
—Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown, 1859

Travel Education Vacation Quote Meme

An original travel meme inspired by this post.

How was it that words spoken over a century ago could still be so relevant and speak so powerfully to a modern man? And then it occurred to me . . . I love recreation and scenic beauty and history, and clearly those are tangible elements that draw me to the open road. But the heart of travel will always be the things we learn along the way. Simply put, for me, travel is more education than vacation. On the heels of this journey, I was left inspired and challenged in spite of religious or political currents to always keep an open mind and seek to right the wrongs of the past . . . .
Click here to view our growing collection of Original Travel Quote Memes and the stories behind them.

Helpful Links

Gettysburg NMP Museum

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

An Audience With the President: Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Class

What Clara and Henry Taught Me: Quotes About Change 1
Howard Blount is founder and co-owner of the travel blog BackroadPlanet.com. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. On the stuffy side, “Mr. Blount” has been a writer, consultant, and published author with the likes of Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Although his road trips are financed by his day job as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be doing anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, HDTV, autumn, sandhill cranes, hot springs, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, To Kill a Mockingbird, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, cold sheets, National and State Park Passports, quotes, the Rambos, Dionne Warwick, Steely Dan, Doobies, Diet Pepsi, Fish City Grill, anything Apple, all things British, Jesus, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.