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Acton, Lord John Emerich
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Apr. 05, 1887 - from a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton
Adams, John Quincy
Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.
Feb. 6, 1775 - from "Novanglus" in the
The will to power, as the modern age from Hobbes to Nietzsche understood it, far from being a characteristic of the strong, is, like envy and greed, among the vices of the weak, and possibly even their most dangerous one. Power corrupts indeed when the weak band together in order to ruin the strong, but not before.
In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state...
350 BC - from
A government is not in power, it is in office, put there by the will of the people.
Governments will always misuse the machinery of the law as far as the state of public opinion permits.
Let all the world learn to give mortal men no greater power than they are content they shall use - for use it they shall.
Nothing is clearer in history than the adoption by successful rebels of the methods they were accustomed to condemn in the forces they deposed.
1968 - from
The Lessons of History
Abuse of power isn't limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we're not vigilant.
Jan. 12, 1997 - from an interview in Parade Magazine
Those in power get jaded, deluded, and seduced by power itself. The hunger for absolute power and, more to the point, the abuse of power, are part of human nature.
Jan. 12, 1997 - from an interview in Parade Magazine
It is tempting to believe that social evils arise from the activities of evil men and that if only good men (like ourselves, naturally) wielded power, all would be well... To understand why it is that "good" men in positions of power will produce evil, while ordinary man without power but able to engage in voluntary cooperation with his neighbours will produce good, requires analysis and thought, subordinating the emotions to the rational faculty.
Aug. 15, 1994 - from a column in the
International Herald Tribune
, quoted in
The Quotable Conservative
by Bill Adler
Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. [Because] if I do not like what my local community does, I can move to another local community... [and] if I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. [But] if I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.
1962 - from
Capitalism and Freedom
There is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary... it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary.
1944 - from
The Road to Serfdom
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
Can the annals of mankind exhibit one single example, where rulers overcharged with power, willingly let go the oppressed, though solicited and requested most earnestly? ... A willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which human nature never was, nor ever will be capable of.
Jun. 5, 1788 - from a speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention
It is not by the consolidation, or concentration, of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected.
Kennedy, John F.
Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.
Nov. 22, 1963 - from a speech he was planning to deliver to the Texas Democratic Convention on the day of his assassination
Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.... A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic.
1993 - from "Ten Conservative Principles", in the second chapter of
The Politics of Prudence
The great question which, in all ages, has disturbed mankind and brought on them the greatest part of their mischiefs, which has ruined cities, depopulated countries and disordered the peace of the world has been, not whether there be power in the world, nor whence it came, but who should have it.
1690 - from
The Second Treatise on Civil Government
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
Newman, Peter C.
Power tends to connect; absolute power connects absolutely.
Columbo's New Canadian Quotations
John Robert Columbo
You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.
All the citizens of a state cannot be equally powerful, but they may be equally free.
1764 - from
Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.
from his farewell address
The history of liberty is the history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. When we resist the concentration of power we are resisting the powers of death. Concentration of power precedes the destruction of human liberties.
Sep. 12, 1912 - from a speech given in New York
Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.
Sep. 9, 1912 - from a speech given in New York