38 Mind-Blowing Lord Acton Quotes

Lord Acton was an English Catholic historian, politician, and write. During the American Civil War, Lord Acton was known to be sympathetic to the Confederacy and to defined the rights of State’s against a centralized government. Here is a look at some of the most notable Lord Acton quotes ever documented.

“A convinced man differs from a prejudiced man as an honest man from a liar.”

“A government does not desire its powers to be strictly defined, but the subjects require the line to be drawn with increasing precision.”

“A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.”

“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.”

“Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.”

“Be not content with the best book; seek sidelights from the others; have no favourites.”


“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.”

“Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”

“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

“Fanaticism in religion is the alliance of the passions she condemns with the dogmas she professes.”

“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.”

“Great men are almost always bad men.”

“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”

“Ink was not invented to express our real feelings.”

“It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist.”

“It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people fit to govern others.”

“Learn as much by writing as by reading.”

“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.”

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

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

“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”

“Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.”

“Live both in the future and the past. Who does not live in the past does not live in the future.”

“Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.”

“Moral precepts are constant through the ages and not obedient to circumstances.”

“Official truth is not actual truth.”

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“Socialism means slavery.”

“The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.”

“The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion of equality made vain the hope for freedom.”

“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”

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

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”

“The possession of unlimited power corrodes the conscience, hardens the heart, and confounds the understanding.”

“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.”

“The will of the people cannot make just that which is unjust.”

“There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.”

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

Here is a look at some of the best Lord Acton’s ideas about freedom in history and how it relates to the modern libertarian movement.