power corrupts

The proverb is now commonly used in allusion to quot. 1887.

1876 TROLLOPE Prime Minister IV. viii. We know that power does corrupt, and that we cannot trust kings to have loving hearts.

1887 LD. ACTON Letter in Life & Letters of Mandel Creighton (1904) I. xiii. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.

1957 V. BRITTAIN Testament of Experience II. ix. The processes by which ‘power corrupts’ are perhaps inevitable.

1979 McCARRY Better Angels IV. xii. He doesn’t know that power corrupts; there’s nothing dark in him.

2001 Washington Times 1 Sept. A10 To paraphrase Lord Acton: Power corrupts. Extended service in Congress corrupts absolutely.


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