Lord Acton quotes

  • Socialism means slavery.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Mean #Eugenics #Slavery

  • Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Men #Liberty #Morality

  • The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern: every class is unfit to govern.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Rights #Government #Class

  • It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people fit to govern others.
    -- Lord Acton

    #People #Fit #Easier

  • Great men are almost always bad men.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Men #Great Men

  • Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Inspirational #Leadership #Work

  • Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Liberty #Doe #Authority

  • The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Issues #People #Political

  • There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Men #Errors #Failing

  • It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Freedom #Majority #Minorities

  • Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Government #Essentials #Authority

  • A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Success #Wise #Time

  • Liberty has not only enemies which it conquers, but perfidious friends, who rob the fruits of its victories: Absolute democracy, socialism.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Enemy #Victory #Democracy

  • Federalism is the best curb on democracy. [It] assigns limited powers to the central government. Thereby all power is limited. It excludes absolute power of the majority.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Government #Democracy #Majority

  • Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Wisdom #Freedom #Mean

  • I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power...power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Kings #Men #Judging

  • At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Triumph #Minorities #Association

  • The will of the people cannot make just that which is unjust.
    -- Lord Acton

    #People #Unjust

  • Moral precepts are constant through the ages and not obedient to circumstances.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Age #Moral #Circumstances

  • Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Mean #Government #Political

  • Official truth is not actual truth.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Truth Is

  • Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Morality #Corruption

  • There is not a soul who does not have to beg alms of another, either a smile, a handshake, or a fond eye.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Smile #Eye #Soul

  • If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Morning #Anxiety #Void

  • Liberty, next to religion has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime...
    -- Lord Acton

    #Liberty #Next #Deeds

  • There is not a more perilous or immoral habit of mind than the sanctifying of success.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Political #Mind #Habit

  • Liberty is the harmony between the will and the law.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Law #Liberty #Harmony

  • There should be a law to the People besides its own will.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Law #People #Should

  • There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Office #Political #Heresy

  • The common vice of democracy is disregard for morality.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Democracy #Vices #Morality

  • A convinced man differs from a prejudiced man as an honest man from a liar.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Liars #Men #Honest

  • History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Memories #Illumination #Soul

  • Learn as much by writing as by reading.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Spiritual #Reading #Writing

  • I'm not a driven businessman, but a driven artist. I never think about money. Beautiful things make money.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Beautiful #Funny Inspirational #Business

  • The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Party #Hype #Evil

  • Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Fall #Law #Tables

  • Democracy generally monopolizes and concentrates power.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Democracy

  • Socialism easily accepts despotism. It requires the strongest execution of power -- power sufficient to interfere with property.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Execution #Socialism #Accepting

  • Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Spiritual #Religious #Self

  • Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Exercise #Men #Influence

  • Live both in the future and the past. Who does not live in the past does not live in the future.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Past #Doe

  • There are many things the government cant do, many good purposes it must renounce. It must leave them to the enterprise of others. It cannot feed the people. It cannot enrich the people. It cannot teach the people. It cannot convert the people.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Government #People #Purpose

  • Progress, the religion of those who have none.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Progress

  • I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Men #Suffering #Trying

  • There is no evidence to support the belief that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ever questioned Americas power. He questioned only the President's John F. Kennedys readiness to use it. Elie Abel, The Missile Crisis (1966) Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Power #Support #President

  • Those who have more power are liable to sin more; no theorem in geometry is more certain than this.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Sin #Liable #Certain

  • Though oppression may give rise to violent and repeated outbreaks, like the convulsions of a man in pain, it cannot mature a settled purpose and plan of regeneration, unless a new notion of happiness is joined to the sense of present evil.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Pain #Men #Evil

  • The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Evil #Democracy #Majority

  • It was from America that the plain ideas that men ought to mind their business, and that the nation is responsible to Heaven for the acts of the State -- ideas long locked in the breast of solitary thinkers, and hidden among Latin folios -- burst forth like a conqueror upon the world they were destined to transform, under the title of the Rights of Man ... and the principle gained ground, that a nation can never abandon its fate to an authority it cannot control.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Latin #Fate #Men

  • The light that has guided us is still unquenched, and the causes that have carried us so far in the van of free nations have not spent their power; because the story of the future is written in the past, and that which hath been is the same thing that shall be.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Past #Light #Stories

  • Judge talent at its best and character at its worst.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Character #Judging #Talent

  • From the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.
    -- Lord Acton

    #People #Redemption #Appeals

  • Feudalism made land the measure and the master of all things.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Real #Land #Made

  • The true guide of our conduct is no outward authority, but the voice of God, who comes down to dwell in our souls, who knows all our thoughts, to whom are owing all the truth we know, and all the good we do; for vice is voluntary, and virtue comes from the grace of the heavenly spirit within.
    -- Lord Acton

    #God #Voice #Grace

  • Liberty, next to religion has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime, from the sowing of the seed at Athens, 2,460 years ago, until the ripened harvest was gathered by men of our race. It is the delicate fruit of a mature civilization; and scarcely a century has passed since nations, that knew the meaning of the term, resolved to be free. In every age its progress has been beset by its natural enemies, by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man's craving for power, and the poor man's craving for food.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Strong #Ignorance #Men

  • Do not turn yourself from an end into a means-one does not justify the other.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Mean #Doe #Ends

  • Many men can no more be kept straight by spiritual motives than we can live without policemen.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Spiritual #Men #Motive

  • Many things are better for silence than for speech: others are better for speech than for stationery.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Silence #Speech

  • Monarchy hardens into despotism. Aristocracy contracts into oligarchy. Democracy expands into the supremacy of numbers.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Numbers #Democracy #Aristocracy

  • Piety sometimes gives birth to scruples, and faith to superstition, when they are not directed by wisdom and knowledge.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Giving #Superstitions #Birth

  • Political differences essentially depend on disagreement in moral principles.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Differences #Political #Principles

  • Remember that one touch of ill-nature makes the whole world kin.
    -- Lord Acton

    #World #Remember #Ill

  • Self-preservation and self-denial: the basis of all political economy.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Self #Political #Denial

  • The form of government and the condition of society must always correspond. Social equality is therefore a postulate of pure democracy.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Government #Democracy #Social

  • The mills of God grind slowly.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Grind #Mills

  • The reward of history is that it releases and relieves us from present strife.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Rewards #Release #Strife

  • The strong man with the dagger is followed by the weak man with the sponge.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Strong #Men #Daggers

  • We are not sure we are right until we have made the best case possible for those who are wrong.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Made #Cases #Not Sure

  • It is very easy to speak words of wisdom from a comfortable distance, when one sees no reality, no details, none of the effect on men's minds.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Distance #Reality #Men

  • It is dangerous, at any time, to multiply sources of weakness.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Weakness #Source #Dangerous

  • Ink was not invented to express our real feelings.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Real #Feelings #Ink

  • For centuries it was never discovered that education was a function of the State, and the State never attempted to educate. But when modern absolutism arose, it laid claim to everything on behalf of the sovereign power....When the revolutionary theory of government began to prevail, and Church and State found that they were educating for opposite ends and in a contradictory spirit, it became necessary to remove children entirely from the influence of religion.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Children #Government #Opposites

  • I have reached the end of my time, and have hardly come to the beginning of my task.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Tasks #Ends

  • The epoch of doubt and transition during which the Greeks passed from the dim fancies of mythology to the fierce light of science was the age of Pericles, and the endeavour to substitute certain truth for the prescriptions of impaired authorities, which was then beginning to absorb the energies of the Greek intellect, is the grandest movement in the profane annals of mankind, for to it we owe, even after the immeasurable progress accomplished by Christianity, much of our philosophy and far the better part of the political knowledge we possess.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Philosophy #Light #Political

  • The possession of unlimited power corrodes the conscience, hardens the heart, and confounds the understanding.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Heart #Understanding #Atheism

  • A generous spirit prefers that his country should be poor, and weak, and of no account, but free, rather than powerful, prosperous, and enslaved.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Country #Powerful #Spirit

  • A government does not desire its powers to be strictly defined, but the subjects require the line to be drawn with increasing precision.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Government #Desire #Doe

  • A history that should pursue all the subtle threads from end to end might be eminently valuable, but not as a tribute to peace and conciliation.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Might #Ends #Subtle

  • A man can be trusted only up to low-water mark.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Men #Water #Lows

  • Absolute power demoralizes.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Absolute Power

  • Be generous before you are just. Do not temper mercy with justice.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Justice #Mercy #Temper

  • Every error pronounces judgment on itself when it attempts to apply its rules to the standard of truth.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Errors #Judgment #Standards

  • In England Parliament is above the law. In America the law is above Congress.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Law #America #England

  • I saw in States' rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy.... Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization, and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Fighting #Rights #Civilization

  • Character is tested by true sentiments more than by conduct. A man is seldom better than his word.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Character #Men #Personality

  • Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Justice #Liberty #Able

  • Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end...liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition...The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. ~ Every class is unfit to govern ... Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Mean #Men #Class

  • The principle of the Inquisition was murderous. . . . The popes were not only murderers in the great style, but they also made murder a legal basis of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Christian #Religion #Style

  • Before God, there is neither Greek nor barbarian, neither rich nor poor, and the slave is as good as his master, for by birth all men are free; they are citizens of the universal commonwealth which embraces all the world, brethren of one family, and children of God.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Children #Men #Greek

  • Writers the most learned, the most accurate in details, and the soundest in tendency, frequently fall into a habit which can neither be cured nor pardoned,-the habit of making history into the proof of their theories.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Fall #Writing #Details

  • At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities....
    -- Lord Acton

    #Liberty #Triumph #Minorities

  • Before men can find peace and harmony within themselves they must first fall in love with their country.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Country #Falling In Love #Peace

  • By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes to be his duty against the influences of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Believe #Mean #Men

  • No public character has ever stood the revelation of private utterance and correspondence.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Character #Utterance #Revelations

  • Good and evil lie close together. Seek no artistic unity in character.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Lying #Character #Evil

  • To develop and perfect and arm conscience is the great achievement of history.
    -- Lord Acton

    #History #Perfect #Achievement

  • History, to be above evasion or dispute, must stand on documents, not on opinions.
    -- Lord Acton

    #History #Opinion #Disputes

  • History is not only a particular branch of knowledge, but a particular mode and method of knowledge in other branches.
    -- Lord Acton

    #History #Branches #Method

  • The science of politics is the one science that is deposited by the streams of history, like the grains of gold in the sand of a river; and the knowledge of the past, the record of truths revealed by experience, is eminently practical, as an instrument of action and a power that goes to making the future.
    -- Lord Acton

    #Past #Rivers #Gold