Quotation: "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted: Searching on the words and phrases "tyranny," "legal for the government," "illegal" and "citizenry"

  1. Monticello website
  2. Ford's Works of Thomas Jefferson
  3. L&B (CD-ROM version)
  4. UVA EText Jefferson Digital Archive: Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government, Texts by or to Thomas Jefferson from the Modern English Collection
  5. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  6. The Quotable Jefferson (searching in the index under "tyranny")

Earliest known appearance in print: No known appearances in print. [1]

Other attributions: None known.

Status: This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

- Anna Berkes, 3/17/09


  1. ^ To establish the earliest appearance of this phrase in print, the following sources were searched for the words, "tyranny," "legal," "government," "illegal," and "citizenry": Google Books, Google Scholar, Amazon.com, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, American Founding Era Collection, American Periodicals Series Online, JSTOR.