Tyranny is a despotic or autocratic form of government, in which the exercise of power is concentrated in one individual without being impeded by constitutional safeguards. Its modern form is dictatorship.
- All hereditary government is in its nature tyranny. An heritable crown, or an heritable throne, or by what other fanciful name such things may be called, have no other significant explanation than that mankind are heritable property. To inherit a government, is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and herds.
- As soon as the prince sets himself up above law, he loses the king in the tyrant. He does, to all intents and purposes, unking himself by acting out of and beyond that sphere which the constitution allows him to move in; and in such cases he has no more right to be obeyed than any inferior officer who acts beyond his commission.
- Jonathan Mayhew A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (1750); cited from John Wingate Thornton (ed.) The Pulpit of the American Revolution (New York: Sheldon, 1860) pp. 94-5.
- Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Du Pont de Nemours (April 24, 1816)
- Britannia fertilis provincia tyrannorum.
- Britain, a province fertile in tyrants.
- St. Jerome, Epistola 133.9; translation from Arthur Wade-Evans The Emergence of England and Wales (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1959) p. 119.
- Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
- Est ergo tyranni et principis hæc differentia sola, quod hic legi obtemperat, et ejus arbitrio populum regit, cujus se credit ministrum.
- Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality, is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
- I consider that in no government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government.
- Kings will be tyrants from policy when subjects are rebels from principle.
- La tyrannie est toujours mieux organisée que la liberté.
- Les despotes eux-mêmes ne nient pas que la liberté ne soit excellente; seulement ils ne la veulent que pour eux-mêmes, et ils soutiennent que tous les autres en sont tout à fait indignes.
- Despots themselves don't deny that freedom is a wonderful thing, they only want to limit it to themselves; they argue that everyone else is unworthy of it.
- Alexis de Tocqueville L'Ancien régime et la révolution (Paris: Michel L évy Frères,  1859) p. 21; François Furet and Françoise Mélonio (eds.), Alan S. Kahan (trans.) The Old Regime and the Revolution vol. 1, p. 88.
- Nature has left this tincture in the blood,
That all men wou'd be tyrants if they cou'd.
- Daniel Defoe The History of the Kentish Petition, Addenda, line 11; cited from The Shortest Way with Dissenters, and Other Pamphlets (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974) p. 100.
- O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
- Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
- From an anonymous tribute to John Bradshaw, current in America by 1773; cited from Charles Symmons The Life of John Milton (London: Whittaker,  1822) p. 229.
- Sometimes wrongly said to be inscribed on Bradshaw's gravestone.
- The fundamental article of my political creed is, that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor; equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.
- The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
- Wole Soyinka The Man Died (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) p. 13
- 'Tis time to fear, when tyrants seem to kiss.
- Pericles, in William Shakespeare Pericles, Prince of Tyre Act I, sc. ii.
- Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my Lords, that where law ends tyranny begins!