In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation or state. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. In the United States Of America, treason is defined at Article 3 of the Constitution.
- In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.
- Samuel Adams, Arguing for a Riot Act which prohibited 12 or more persons from congregating in public and which empowered county sheriffs to kill rioters, during debates prompted by Shays' Rebellion (1786 - 1787) and the death sentences given to many of the rebels; as quoted in Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States (1980) Chapter 5 : A kind of Revolution; also quoted in "Completing the American Revolution" by Norman D. Livergood
- Is there not some chosen curse,
Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
- Joseph Addison, Cato, A Tragedy (1713), Act I, scene 1.
- This principle is old, but true as fate,
Kings may love treason, but the traitor hate.
- Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore (1604), Part I, Act IV, scene 4.
- The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.
- If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
- E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy (1951).
- Rebellion must be managed with many swords; treason to his prince's person may be with one knife.
- Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Prophane State (1642), The Traitor.
- Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
- Hast thou betrayed my credulous innocence
With vizor'd falsehood and base forgery?
- Oh, colder than the wind that freezes
Founts, that but now in sunshine play'd,
Is that congealing pang which seizes
The trusting bosom, when betray'd.
- Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh (1817), The Fire Worshippers.
- Oh, for a tongue to curse the slave
Whose treason, like a deadly blight,
Comes o'er the councils of the brave,
And blasts them in their hour of might!
- Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh (1817), The Fire-Worshippers.
- If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason.
- Mort Sahl, "Live at the hungry i" (1960 comedy album).
- The man was noble,
But with his last attempt he wiped it out:
Destroy'd his country, and his name remains
To the ensuing age abhorr'd.
- Though those that are betray'd
Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.
- I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crowned king.
- Treason is but trusted like the fox
Who, ne'er so tame, so cherish'd and locked up,
Will have a wild trick of his ancestors.
- Some guard these traitors to the block of death;
Treason's true bed and yielder up of breath.
- Treason and murder ever kept together,
As two yoke-devils sworn to either's purpose,
Working so grossly in a natural cause,
That admiration did not hoop at them.
- Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.
- To say the truth, so Judas kiss'd his master,
And cried "all hail!" whereas he meant all harm.
- Know, my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
- Tellest thou me of "ifs"? Thou art a traitor:
Off with his head!
- Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.
- All men should have a drop of treason in their veins, if the nations are not to go soft like so many sleepy pears.
- Dame Rebecca West, "The Meaning of Treason" (Revised edition, Penguin Books, 1965), Conclusion, p. 413.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 811-12.
- Nemo unquam sapiens proditori credendum putavit.
- No wise man ever thought that a traitor should be trusted.
- Cicero, Orationes In Verrem, II. 1. 15.
- Treason is not own'd when 'tis descried;
Successful crimes alone are justified.
- John Dryden, Medals, line 207.
- O that a soldier so glorious, ever victorious in fight,
Passed from a daylight of honor into the terrible night;
Fell as the mighty archangel, ere the earth glowed in space, fell—
Fell from the patriot's heaven down to the loyalist's hell!
- Thomas Dunn English, Arnold at Stillwater.
- With evil omens from the harbour sails
The ill-fated ship that worthless Arnold bears;
God of the southern winds, call up thy gales,
And whistle in rude fury round his ears.
- Philip Freneau, Arnold's Departure.
- Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
- Sir John Harrington, Epigrams, Book IV, Epigram V.
- Judas had given them the slip.
- Matthew Henry, Commentaries, Matthew, XXII.
- Tarquin and Cæsar had each his Brutus—Charles the First, his Cromwell—and George the Third—("Treason!" shouted the Speaker) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
- Patrick Henry, speech (1765).
- The man who pauses on the paths of treason,
Halts on a quicksand, the first step engulfs him.
- Aaron Hill, Henry V, Act I, scene 1.
- For while the treason I detest,
The traitor still I love.
- John Hoole, Metastatio, Romulus and Hersilia, Act I, scene 5.
- Ipsa se fraus, etiamsi initio cautior fuerit, detegit.
- Treachery, though at first very cautious, in the end betrays itself.
- Livy, Annales. XLIV. 15.
- The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most accursed;
Man is more than Constitutions; better rot beneath the sod,
Than be true to Church and State while we are doubly false to God.
- James Russell Lowell, On the Capture of Certain Fugitive Slaves near Washington.
- He [Cæsar] loved the treason, but hated the traitor.
- Plutarch, Life of Romulus.