LORD ACTON QUOTES

English historian, politician & writer (1834-1902)

Lord Acton quote

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 that universal commonwealth which embraces all the world, brethren of one family, and children of God.

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

6 likes

Tags: equality


Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

LORD ACTON, letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, Apr. 3, 1887

5 likes

Tags: power, corruption


Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show it can bear discussion and publicity.

LORD ACTON, letter to Richard Simpson, Jan. 23, 1861

5 likes

Tags: secrets


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, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

5 likes

Tags: democracy, political parties


There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

LORD ACTON, letter to Mandell Creighton, Apr. 5, 1887

4 likes

Tags: politics


Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience.

LORD ACTON, postscript of letter to Mandell Creighton, Apr. 5, 1887

4 likes

Tags: conscience


ADVICE TO PERSONS ABOUT TO WRITE HISTORY -- DON'T.

LORD ACTON, postscript of letter to Mandell Creighton, Apr. 5, 1887

3 likes

Tags: history


The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

3 likes

Tags: freedom


Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

3 likes

Tags: liberty, freedom


There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men. Imagine a congress of eminent celebrities, such as More, Bacon, Grotius, Pascal, Cromwell, Bossuet, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Napoleon, Pitt, etc. The result would be an Encyclopedia of Error.

LORD ACTON, letter to Mary Gladstone, Apr. 24, 1881

2 likes

Tags: Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson


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

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

2 likes

Tags: liberty, custom


Judge talent at its best and character at its worst.

LORD ACTON, The Study of History

2 likes

Tags: talent, character


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, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

2 likes

Tags: God, authority


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, The Study of History

2 likes

Tags: morality, history


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, The History of Freedom in Christianity

1 likes

Tags: future, past


The history of institutions is often a history of deception and illusions; for their virtue depends on the ideas that produce and on the spirit that preserves them, and the form may remain unaltered when the substance has passed away.

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

1 likes

Tags: ideas, illusion


Be not content with the best book; seek sidelights from the others.

LORD ACTON, The Study of History

1 likes

Tags: books


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

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

1 likes


The inflexible integrity of the moral code is, to me, the secret of the authority, the dignity, the utility of History. If we may debase the currency for the sake of genius, or success, or rank, or reputation, we may debase it for the sake of a man's influence, of his religion, of his party, of the good cause which prospers by his credit and suffers by his disgrace. Then History ceases to be a science, an arbiter of controversy, a guide of the Wanderer, the upholder of that moral standard which the powers of earth and religion itself tend constantly to depress. It serves where it ought to reign; and it serves the worst cause better than the purest.

LORD ACTON, letter to Mandell Creighton, Apr. 5, 1887

1 likes

Tags: history, morality


The barbarians, who possessed no books, no secular knowledge, no education, except in the schools of the clergy, and who had scarcely acquired the rudiments of religious instruction, turned with childlike attachment to men whose minds were stored with the knowledge of Scripture, of Cicero, of St. Augustine; and in the scanty world of their ideas, the Church was felt to be something infinitely vaster, stronger, holier than their newly founded States.

LORD ACTON, The History of Freedom in Christianity

0 likes

Tags: religion, church