Rebellion is a refusal of obedience. It may therefore be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors from civil disobedience and mass nonviolent resistance, to violent and organized attempts to destroy an established authority such as the government. Those who participate in rebellions are known as "rebels".
- Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
- Inscription at John Bradshaw's final burial place on Gun Hill, about 2.5 miles SW of Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica, and northwest of Marthas Brae.
- Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
- Analysis of rebellion leads at least to the suspicion that, contrary to the postulates of contemporary thought, a human nature does exist, as the Greeks believed. Why rebel if there is nothing permanent in oneself worth preserving? … Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended.
- Does the end justify the means? That is possible. But what will justify the end? To that question, which historical thought leaves pending, rebellion replies: the means.
- With rebellion, awareness is born.
- Albert Camus, as quoted in The Estranged God : Modern Man's Search for Belief (1966) by Anthony T. Padovano, p. 109.
- There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be overcome by the good others represent. Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas which are right. This can be done.
- When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away.
- John Singleton Copley, letter on the subject of the American Revolution (Aug. 6, 1775).
- Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
- Caprice, independence and rebellion, which are opposed to the social order, are essential to the good health of an ethnic group. We shall measure the good health of this group by the number of its delinquents. Nothing is more immobilizing than the spirit of deference.
- Jean Dubuffet, Asphyxiating Culture (1968).
- No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
- Barbara Ehrenreich, "Family Values," The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991).
- I venture to say quite plainly: the oppressed and the exploited have a right to rebel, because they have to reclaim their rights until they enjoy their full share in the common patrimony. The Modern School, however, has to deal with children, whom it prepares by instruction for the state of manhood, and it must not anticipate the cravings and hatreds, the adhesions and rebellions, which may be fitting sentiments in the adult. In other words, it must not seek to gather fruit until it has been produced by cultivation, nor must it attempt to implant a sense of responsibility until it has equipped the conscience with the fundamental conditions of such responsibility. Let it teach the children to be men; when they are men, they may declare themselves rebels against injustice.
- Francisco Ferrer, The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School (1908), J. McCabe, trans. (1913), p. 45
- I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. [...] It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.
- The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (13 November 1787).
- But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression.
- The old question will be asked in this matter of prerogative, But who shall be judge when this power is made a right use of ? 1 answer: between an executive power in being, with such a prerogative, and a legislative that depends upon his will for their convening, there can be no judge on earth; as there can be none between the legislative and the people, should either the executive, or the legislative, when they have got the power in their hands, design, or go about to enslave or destroy them. The people have no other remedy in this, as in all other cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to heaven: for the rulers, in such attempts, exercising a power the people never put into their hands, (who can never be supposed to consent that any body should rule over them for their harm) do that which they have not a right to do. And where the body of the people, or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment. And therefore, though the people cannot be judge, so as to have, by the constitution of that society, any superior power, to determine and give effective sentence in the case; yet they have, by a law antecedent and paramount to all positive laws of men, reserved that ultimate determination to themselves which belongs to all mankind, where there lies no appeal on earth, viz. to judge, whether they have just cause to make their appeal to heaven. And this judgment they cannot part with, it being out of a man's power so to submit himself to another, as to give him a liberty to destroy him; God and nature never allowing a man so to abandon himself, as to neglect his own preservation: and since he cannot take away his own life, neither can he give another power to take it. Nor let any one think, this lays a perpetual foundation for disorder; for this operates not, till the inconveniency is so great, that the majority feel it, and are weary of it, and find a necessity to have it amended. But this the executive power, or wise princes, never need come in the danger of: and it is the thing, of all others, they have most need to avoid, as of all others the most perilous.
- For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour'd with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.
- There is the peculiar logic of democracy. If the majority of the people are for you, you don't need rebellion, just an election. If the majority of the people are not for you, then a rebellion would be unlikely to succeed; and even if it did, you would be in the awkward situation of imposing a regime that, given the chance, will be voted out.
- Kelley L. Ross, "Democracy & Natural Rights" (2015), The Time For Rebellion.
- To be different is to be held in suspicion. The nonconformist is a subversive. Subversion and rebellion make societies become more generous, more diverse, more compassionate and an individual more free. For the inability or unwillingness to see rebellion as a virtue and not a flaw is what provokes the uncomprehending hostility that makes the anxious herd stifle dissent and stamp out anything different. But humanity is not a herd, and being human demands a vigilance against the kind of provocations that start stampedes.
- Manuel L. Quezon III, The grand inquisitor (The Long View, 08/14/2006)
- The questioning spirit is the rebellious spirit. A rebellion is always either a cloak to hide a prince, or the swaddling wrapper of a new rule.
- Honoré de Balzac, About Catherine of Medici, first published in book form as Catherine de Medici expliquée (1843).
- Only the spirit of rebellion craves for happiness in this life. What right have we human beings to happiness?
- Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts (1881).
- Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, Fortnightly Review (London, Feb. 1891, repr. 1895).
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 659.
- The worst of rebels never arm
To do their king or country harm,
But draw their swords to do them good,
As doctors cure by letting blood.
- Samuel Butler, Miscellaneous Thoughts, line 181.
- Men seldom, or rather never for a length of time and deliberately, rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Goethe's Works.
- Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
- Inscription on a Cannon near which the ashes of President John Bradshaw were lodged, on the top of hill near Martha Bay in Jamaica. See Stiles—History of the Three Judges of Charles I. Attributed also to Franklin in Randall's Life of Jefferson, Volume III. P. 585. Motto on Jefferson's seal.
- Rebellion in this land shall lose his sway,
Meeting the check of such another day.