Lord ActonLord Acton, [John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton] (1834-1902), First Baron Acton of Aldenham

Famous Lord Acton Quote

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

Lord ActonLord Acton
~ Lord Acton

in a letter to the bishop of London, Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5,1887

Ratings and Comments

Bianca, Padua

This quote is very true as it has been proved many times through history.

Kate, Padua

Hopefully the US government can remain a democracy as it is already the longest standing there is so hope power stayes limited

Petrucho, veronia

I AGREE! very well said

Joe, Rochester, MI

Congress has usurped power from the people. Without term limits, they approach absolute power, and indeed they are absolutely corrupt.

sam, Daly City,Ca

I agree this quote is really true

Lucien Alexandre Marion, Canada

May those words of wisdom always be in the mind of those who have Power...

warren, olathe

Congress seeks absolute power to match their absolute corruption.

JoW, Utah
  • Reply
JoW, Utah    4/16/08

Is God corrupt? As said: "it has been proved many times through history." I agree, but it has not been proven everytime. Change it to: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutly.

Mike, Norwalk
  • Reply
Mike, Norwalk JoW, Utah 7/19/21

JoW, which "god" are you referencing or alluding to? All socialist gods are corrupt. No term "god" developed in the original Hebrew language but rather, was adapted by translation and interpretation from external forces (Egypt, Babylon, etc.). I do like your slight alteration.

JoW, Utah
  • Reply
    JoW, Utah    6/22/08

    Oops, meant to change it too: Those who seek power, for powers sake become corrupt.


    No kidding - if everyone could just know this - there would be a lot less fool's in the world!

    • Reply
      Comnenus    4/13/10

      Very true.

      Ben, Orem, UT


      Mike, Norwalk

      Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench also demonstrates that absolute corruption does not tend to change when placed in a position of absolute power.

      • Reply
      Anon    4/14/10

      When the power of love becomes more important than the love of power, then the world will know peace. (paraphrased.)

      J Carlton, Calgary

      One need only look within the Beltway to see the truth in this quote.

      jim k, Austin

      Right on, J Carlton.

      Waffler, Smith

      Thank goodness we have limited government in these United States. As the recent year long Congressional debates on health care have proven it is difficult to do anything. The balances of powers work extremly well and thus Absolute Power does not exist and never has in the good ole USofA. The statement is true and those with absolute power become cynical overlords. Look what happened under Bush with Tom DeLay and all of the corporation corruption in Texas with Enron

      J Carlton, Calgary

      Waffler, I would call you the master of twist as you try and turn everything into a socialist utopia...problem is there is no socialist utopia and you're not all that masterful. The US government is in no way limited in accordance to the Constitution and Obamacare is about the worst piece of corrupted legislation ever in the US.

      Waffler, Smith

      If you have never heard of divided government J and the statement that "Americans like it that way" you just are not aware of anything. Our two party system maintains a balance of power and things change slowly. Some attack us for this slow or conservative pace of change in this country but this is a result of a lack of absolute power and of thoughtful solutions to public problems over time. There is no absolute power in a democracy except the people and we know how fickle they are. I belive my example of the health care debate is a great one to point out the lack of absolute power in our Federal Government, and it is not twisting or creating a socialist utiopia at all. You are the one with a hardened point of view and ignore facts. When you can't stand the heat of the truth you say I am twisting something. Have a great day man, I am going to the Grand Canyon today, that socialist endeavor of maintaing vast tracts of otherwise what could be good private property in the hands of the governement for the use of us soicalist people.

      E Archer, NYC

      This is the primary reason for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the USA -- the protection of individual power and the limitation of collective power. Why? Because power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely -- history proves it so. The US government is hardly bound by the limits of the Constitution. Waffler's blissful ignorance of the real truth is what allows this corruption to continue. The omnipotent counterfeiter, the Federal Reserve, holds the real power in this country. Every one of us is born into debt to this behemoth -- and Obama just doubled it (now you know who he REALLY works for). The goal is simple: hijack the labors and property of the People. Why? POWER! Whether its religion or politics, there is someone or a coterie of persons who assume power over the masses. The worship of power is the cause of the world's misery for thousands of years. It is man's attempt to become a god. To be master of oneself, that is the goal of the sovereign individual. To be master of others is the goal of those that worship power.

      Carol, Georgia

      This quote is proving to be true once again in the present as well as in the past. We may not have arrived at the absolute quite yet, but all the pieces are in place.

      • Reply
      RBESRQ    4/14/10

      Archer, well said - nothing to add - the key word here being "Worship". I'm amazed Lord Acton received such high ratings from you all considering he was a Liberal.

      E Archer, NYC

      If Lord Acton was a 'liberal,' he was a 'classical liberal,' not a 'progressive liberal' as the socialists have co-opted the term. I am liberal and also conservative but I do not call myself 'a' liberal or 'a' conservative -- there is a difference.

      Mike, Norwalk

      Robert, adding to what Archer said, what does a label (liberal / conservative) have to do with a true statement. AND, because you don't explain what you mean by liberal, nobody really knows what you mean.

      warren, olathe

      Waffler as usual you misrepresent everything. The Enron corruption was under Clinton. Bush put an end to it by refusing to cooperate, like Clinton did, with Enron to keep it afloat. Clinton, Enron and World Com were all big believers in cooking the books. That is one reason Clinton got so much corporate financial support. The reason these people keep getting caught when a Republican is in office is because the Republicans are more likely to uphold the law while with dems it is anything goes (as long as the contributions keep coming). I can not believe that you are always so misinformed. It could be that you just intend to misinform.

      aa, hb
      • Reply
      aa, hb    4/14/10

      This was my email 'signature' for many years. Perhaps it should become so again. sigh* there are so many who are so blind...we must stand and challenge these corrupt people...for if we vote for them repeatedly it is we who are fools.

      Jerry dolan, Brooklyn, NYC

      Does power corrupt or is it in the individual that corrupts power?

      watchman13, USA

      Corporate privilege, but in reverse. Greed entices !
      The independent to sell out ! Knowing the poor were sold out !
      If one can tax away the inalienable rights, ordained by God, according to our Constitution, then the contract is broken !!
      The biblical text, to which we have attached our independence is crucial. This is according to Old testament law of a King James Bible. This standing of all Christians of the world is to the point ! Leviticus the law of the Jubilee, inalienable rights of God !!! Leviticus 25:1 thru 16. Shall we go and look at the Kingdom. who is at Liberty and who is not ?
      Please ! The change comes, corruption rules, for now, over the poor and needy. It is easy to take advantage of the needy, but to take care of them is a lot more work !!

      Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

      Moral authority will eventually overcome all corruption.


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