Quotes about Power
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Far better to think historically, to remember the lessons of the past. Thus, far better to conceive of power as consisting in part of the knowledge of when not to use all the power you have. Far better to be one who knows that if you reserve the power not to use all your power, you will lead others far more successfully and well.
A. Bartlett Giamatti (1938 - 1989), President of Yale University

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

You see what power is - holding someone else's fear in your hand and showing it to them!
Amy Tan (1952 - )

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.
Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

To know the pains of power, we must go to those who have it; to know its pleasures, we must go to those who are seeking it.
Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832), Lacon, 1825

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.
David Brin (1950 - )

Let not thy will roar, when thy power can but whisper.
Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 - 1734), Gnomologia, 1732

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.
Elie Wiesel (1928 - )

It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.
Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983), The Passionate State of Mind, 1954

There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience, a readiness to attempt the impossible, a bias for simple solutionsto cut the knot rather than unravel it, the viewing of compromise as surrender. Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence, absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983), The New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1971

If absolute power corrupts absolutely, does absolute powerlessness make you pure?
Harry Shearer

The great secret of power is never to will to do more than you can accomplish.
Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906)

Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve in yourself; that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.
James A. Garfield (1831 - 1881)

The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
James Madison (1751 - 1836), Speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Richmond, Virginia, December 2, 1829

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
James Madison (1751 - 1836), Speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Richmond, Virginia, December 2, 1829

We all have the power to choose how we are going to handle every situation we are faced with throughout our lives. We are in control of the decision we make whether it’s about work, relationships, parenting, or our health.
Jennifer Hudson, I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down, 2012
Power corrupts.

Absolute power is kind of neat.
John Lehman (1942 - ), Secretary of the Navy, 1981-1987

One person with a belief is equal to a force of 99 who have only interests.
John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

The secret of all power is - save your force. If you want high pressure you must choke off waste.
Joseph Farrell

If power was an illusion, wasn't weakness necessarily one also?
Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, 1999

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887

The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.
Lord Macaulay, review of Lucy Aikin, 'Life and Writings of Addison,' 1943

Power never takes a back step - only in the face of more power.
Malcolm X (1925 - 1965), Malcolm X Speaks, 1965

The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use - of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.
Robert F. Kennedy (1925 - 1968), 'I Remember, I Believe,' The Pursuit of Justice, 1964

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.
Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

Knowledge is power.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), Religious Meditations, Of Heresies, 1597

We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
Stephen Vincent Benet (1898 - 1943), Litany for Dictatorships, 1935

We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.
Stewart L. Udall (1920 - ), commencement address, Dartmouth College, June 13, 1965

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)

Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.
Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924), letter to Mary A. Hulbert, September 21, 1913

This page was last updated: July 7, 2013
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